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"I have studied with Maria for 15 years. She continues to research, invent, and synthesize her approach to teaching yoga. The common thread in her exploration and sharing is that it is always transformative. I always feel changed for the better at the end of class." Jane
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that interferes with the highway of messaging from the brain, down the spinal cord, to the tips of the fingers and toes. This disruption of nerve signals can cause a wide range of symptoms including problems with walking, balance, thinking, speaking and coordination. In some people, the disease may be mild and sporadic. Others experience progressive symptoms. While there is no cure for MS, I have seen the the beneficial affects that yoga, mediation, and breath work can have no matter the stage of the disease.
What can yoga do for a person with MS? It can improve physical function and quality of life by enabling students to become stronger, more flexible, and less prone to falling due to loss of balance and coordination. When linked to breath work and meditation, yoga can lessen MS students tendency toward anxiety and depression by calming the nervous system and connecting to ones heart. There is no question that living with Multiple Sclerosis is both difficult and time consuming, but yoga can help students gain a greater sense of confidence, connection and participation in managing and living a spirited life beyond MS.
I work with students who have minor MS symptoms to ones who cannot walk or move their arms. I have given classes to MS students at the VA hospital and at Georgetown hospital as well as given workshops with the National MS Society. I also work with students privately in their homes.
Musicians tend to spend long hours practicing and playing beautiful music with their bodies in asymmetrical positions. What is called "repetitive motion syndrome" can undermine a musician’s ability to play due to hand, arm, neck, shoulder and lower back pain. A musician’s health can be further undermined by the need to keep perpetually late hours and carry heavy equipment. I know this first hand because both my daughter and former husband are professional musicians.
From my experience, the practice of yoga can make a world of difference to musicians by restoring neutral body alignment as well as strengthening and stabilizing vulnerable joints. The breath work that accompanies the asana (physical poses) reduces fatigue by breaking up tension patterns in the body and improving oxygen flow throughout the body.
The poses don't have to be difficult or time consuming to be effective. A few specific poses and strength building practices can open the body’s ability to perform optimally and one good breathing practice can reduce a lot of tension and anxiety.
I usually give musicians a set of asanas they can do in their practice room. The poses do not require a yoga mat. They include wall and chair poses as well as simple hand, wrist and forearms exersises.
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