How my relationship with yoga saved the relationship with my body
How yoga has helped Alice following her MS diagnosis. By Annabelle Swarts
For three years now, Alice Lattimore (19) has suffered from MS (multiple sclerosis). MS is a disease of the central nervous system that causes the protective coating of her nerve fibres to be attacked, causing communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. Symptoms of MS include but are not limited to: mobility difficulties, fatigue, heavy legs, numbness, tingling, pain, vision problems, thinking and processing problems. It can also lead to permanent debilitating disability.
Despite obvious mobility issues, Alice has been practicing yoga for many years now and is as mobile, if not more so, than many of the young people I know. For this, Alice is greatly indebted to yoga. Here are six reasons why:
- It is well known that yoga promotes mobility. Both Alice's nerve pain and neuropathy have improved significantly since her yoga practice began. Tight muscles lead to poor mobility. Practicing yoga stretches your muscles, whilst loosening soreness. Flexibility improvements can also be seen in just a few weeks.
- In relation to nerve pain, yoga has helped to inform Alice about the human body, and her body in particular. A body that has challenged her in previous years, she has now become a master of.
- Alice isn't just tuned into her body and the whereabouts of her pain, but now also recognises how to relieve them. She has become accustomed to the exact yoga positions that alleviate her discomfort. An example of this is an issue with her hips; she has learnt that practicing butterfly pose helps to alleviate her pain, and the more she stretches and progressively strengthens her muscles, the less pain she experiences.
- It is also common knowledge that yoga helps you to connect with your surroundings. An extension fo this is proprioception, something that MS can cause a lack of. Proprioception is awareness of the position and movement of the body. Yoga has helped Alice to reconnect her body with not only her mind, but with the world around her. This has been an incredibly important part of her recovery.
- Alice has suffered from vision problems, as well as thinking and processing issues. The mind and body as connected, so as the body relaxes the heart rate goes down and blood pressure drops, the brain also gets that message, and as a result, it also relaxes. Yoga helps Alice's brain to relax.
- Most importantly, Alice and her mum have found a connection through yoga. Her MS has taken a toll on both of their lives and practising yoga together helps them to take a step back and just enjoy being. This opportunity arises because yoga provides an invitation to be present with the breath, body and mind. Bringing them both out of their worries and relieving stresses together.
Although practising yoga has helped Alice, she is still suffering from this harsh disease. Four years on, at the age of nineteen, she's been offered a life changing treatment. That can prevent any further lesions in her brain and could prevent a future of disability.
If you want to know more about Alice's story, see the Instagram account dedicated to her cause @alter_alices_ms_journey
Photo by Annabelle Swarts