There are firsts for everything. We remember our first day of school, the first time we rode a bike, or the first time we were able to dive into the deep end of the pool. But when you have a disease like Multiple Sclerosis it is like starting over. Everything we do becomes a first again with the tag line..."It was my first time doing such and such after my diagnosis with MS." And so it was recently that I took my first yoga class after my diagnosis of MS.
I had taken only one yoga class prior to my MS diagnosis. It was a class offered at my gym and resembled more of an aerobics class than any idea I had of what yoga should be like. The perky instructor would yell out poses and the class would respond. The class would transform into monkeys, cows, and dogs and needless to say I had no clue what was going on. I looked around the room and everyone was gracefully elongating and twisting themselves into these shapes as I tried to figure out how best not to injure myself. Fortunately I was in the back of the class and near the door. I slowly made my escape and felt relief once I reached the other side of understandable treadmills and weight machines. At least I knew what to do there.
See I had thought that yoga was about relaxation, philosophy, and stretching. Disillusioned by my very short experience in an advanced gym class, I never sought to do yoga again. Until...I got diagnosed with MS. I had heard that yoga was good for us MSers because the stretching would help with symptoms such as spasticity and that the relaxation component would be good to reduce our stress. It took me two years but I finally got the gumption two weeks ago to try yoga again.
I had no idea what to expect. My previous time was nothing like what I thought yoga should be so I simply reserved judgment until the class would begin.
The teacher was nothing I had expected. She was an older lady, pudgy and rounded, and who appeared that she did not spend much time at the gym. Appearances can be deceiving so I held my superficial bias in check. She quickly assessed the crowded room and began to take roll. Since I had noted on my form that I would possibly need accommodations she asked what those were. I told her that I had Multiple Sclerosis and she then asked me if I was at the stage where I had congestion in my chest. I looked puzzled but didn't catch on at that moment that maybe she didn't know what MS was.
She told me that the relaxation would do me good and then moved on to another participant. I probably should have taken the opportunity to educate at that point but I guess I was amazed that she wouldn't know about MS.
Most people in the room did ask for some sort of accommodation. Some had foot problems, back problems, or had been through surgery. It seems as you grow older this list of physical and/or medical issues grows with you.