Coffee with Esther (July 2023)

It’s Time to Make the Change…

Hi All,

I hope you are all enjoying the warm days and sunny weather. The Virtual Coffee Breaks have been full of people jetting off on their summer holidays or enjoying days out with the family. It’s been a pleasure to hear all the stories and massive achievements. We’ve also had a few people worried about not doing enough exercise or struggling to eat healthily as they are less mobile. But don’t worry, we have a solution for this.

In June we started up our virtual yoga sessions. They have been so much fun! I was very sceptical about starting yoga at my age and with myelopathy. Oh boy, was I wrong!

The first session started on the 7th of June; we had a good crowd and all were eager to learn. Helen MacBain, the yoga teacher, is so friendly, kind and caring. She has devised sessions, especially for people with myelopathy. You can be a beginner (like me), have some knowledge, or be advanced in yoga. Whatever stage you are in, you’ll have so much fun.

helen macbain yoga for all

I always thought yoga was about bending your body into unusual shapes that only flexible and young people could do. I was delighted to be proved wrong.

The yoga sessions are all about listening to your body, from your breathing to the limits that you push yourself to. Myelopathy Warriors already have to listen to their bodies constantly, so that’s probably why we all enjoyed the sessions so much.

We started with breathing and relaxing our bodies and I already felt less tense. And I was enjoying myself more than I thought. Then we started the yoga session.

I should mention, I do physical therapy to keep the function of my hands and arms strong. I only received a few exercises after one year of surgery. I don’t know if I was missed off the list after the operation, or if physio was just not offered after the surgery at the time (2017). However, I visited my GP about a year later, as my hands were getting weaker, and she referred me to hand physical therapists. Although I found this very helpful, they didn’t offer me much more than hand exercises. So, as you can imagine, my whole body is not as strong as it should be.

As Helen started the yoga positions, I noticed how weak my arms were! Now normally this would upset me and deter me from continuing, but straight away Helen noticed and suggested another way for me to do the positions. WOW! I could still feel part of the session. And from then on, with every different position, Helen was there showing us a few ways how we could do the exercises. I loved it! Everyone was having a fabulous time.

The more able, advanced people were loving getting back into yoga without having to leave their homes, and appreciated being shown how to do full yoga positions without harming themselves. The beginners were having fun, and learning new exercises to strengthen our bodies. It was a WIN-WIN!

The best bit about the yoga session was not only how it was helping my body, but how great I felt in my mind afterwards. It felt clear, reset, and very calm. I felt amazing! Well, as amazing as I can feel with myelopathy. Oh, and I had the best nap afterwards. I got two hours without being stirred with pain! It was worth doing the sessions just for the relaxing sleep afterwards.

I have continued doing a few bits from the session daily because I noticed my left side is much weaker than my right side, plus I needed to practise my coordination. I have to admit, one exercise blew my mind away! Press down on the heel of one foot, lifting the toes, then press down on the toes with the other, lifting the heel. Rock and swap! Damn, it’s hard! But I’m practising.

I would highly recommend these sessions to everyone with myelopathy. It’s great for the body, mind, and spirit.

Why not come along to the next session? Come on, what do you have to lose?
Plus, if you cannot make the live sessions, they are being recorded so you can do the sessions whenever you want to do them. They will be available on our Support Group on Facebook. Helen is doing monthly sessions, concentrating on one section of the body each month so we can monitor our improvement.

So if you wish to come along to our yoga sessions, here are the next dates and times:

  • 12th July at 5.30 pm BST, 12.30 pm EST, 9 am PDT, 2 am ACST
  • 19th July at 11 am BST, 5.45 am EST, 3 am PDT, 7.30 pm ACST
  • 26th July at 5.30 pm BST, 12.30 pm EST, 9 am PDT, 2 am ACST

And if you just fancy popping along to the Virtual Coffee Breaks on our Support Group on Facebook and talking to people who care and understand, here are the dates and times for them:

  • 13th July at 2 pm BST, 9 am EST, 6 am PDT, 10.30 pm ACST
  • 20th July at 6 pm BST, 1 pm EST, 10 am PDT, 2.30 am ACST

I hope to see you there.