The Nutshell Version: My name is Deb and I’m a registered yoga teacher in Oakland County, Michigan. I’ve been living with the challenges of multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia for several years. Yoga was an important tool in helping me heal the wounds of a childhood filled with abuse and it continues to play an important role in helping me live a fulfilling life despite chronic illness. I hope this blog will: (1) encourage you to add yoga into your life, (2) provide information that makes life, with or without a chronic illness, a bit more manageable, and (3) let survivors of abuse/violence know that healing is possible.
The Longer Version: I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2005 and developed fibromyalgia in the following years. I had tried yoga a few times in the past. But it wasn’t until I began to experience muscle spasticity that yoga became a regular part of my life. Although I came to yoga to help with health problems, I stayed with it because of its mental and emotional benefits.
I grew up in a home with an abusive mother. Early on I learned skills that kept much of the physical abuse at bay. But I had no way to fend off the mental and emotional attacks. Instead, I absorbed what she said as “truth.” It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I sought counseling to deal with these wounds. And it wasn’t until I added yoga to my routine that I truly began to heal.
Yoga has many physical benefits — increased strength, improved range-of-motion, lower blood pressure, reduced pain. But I don’t practice or teach yoga solely for these benefits — not even for the reduction in pain. I practice and teach because, when practiced in its entirety (movement, breath, meditation and philosophy), yoga provides us humans with tools for living each and every moment. It helps us enjoy the good moments to their fullest, remain steady and courageous in the face of difficulty, and appreciate even the mundane.
Yoga played a role in changing the way I had viewed myself since childhood. Through it I became more confident, less depressed, and found MY voice; the voice I had swallowed in an attempt to “keep the peace” and keep myself safe. Daily it helps me manage the symptoms of chronic illness: pain, muscle tightness, fatigue and stress, as well as the frustration that can accompany a new flare-up or changes in my day-to-day ability.
I have been teaching yoga since November 2007. I completed my yoga teacher training in 2010. I was registered with the Yoga Alliance from November 2010 to November 2016. But have decided not to renew that registration at this time. I continually seek to increase my understanding of this amazing practice through study, training and personal experience.