Posts Tagged ‘multiple sclerosis’

The Only Way Out, Is Through

 

It’s so easy to ask one’s self, why me?  1-make-stepping-stones-out-of-stumbling-blocks-rianna-stackhouse

When I hear that question, even if it’s inside my own head, my response is always the same, if not you, then who?

There are many times in our lives we might ask ourselves that question, usually it’s during a time when things are just not going ‘as planned’ or how we ‘expect’ them to go, but there is lesson one right, let go of expectations and plans. I believe that when those things happen that the Universe, God, Spirit or whatever we want to call it, has another plan for us and while we might see it as an obstacle or a stumbling block it really is the beginning of our growth and most times, in a major way. The change, transformation or shift, while not obvious at first becomes the beginning of a life changer and if we allow it, if we don’t resist it and we take what happens as part of our journey and learning experience, it will become our greatest lesson and even sometimes reveal to us our purpose.

Many of us have heard the quote “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.”

Life does throw us stumbling blocks and with each one we are given a choice, we are given the option to ask ourselves these questions, what is this here to teach me? What can I learn from this moment, from this bump in the road what is this here to show me? How can I allow myself to be utilized in a way that might help someone else? At least that is what I hear when I come upon the stumbling blocks in my path, which DO become my stepping stones through life.

When I was diagnosed some 11 years ago with MS, after a long time having been un-diagnosed and misdiagnosed, I could never have known then what looked like the biggest stumbling block would become, 17 years later from the onset, I can clearly see why I ‘stumbled’ into this disease, why I accepted this assignment of living with Multiple Sclerosis.

I say ‘accepted the assignment’ because I do believe we accept these things that come into our present lives, whether it be through Samskara (Sanskrit word meaning-impressions / lessons are the imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience in this or previous lives, which then color all of life, one’s nature, responses, states of mind, etc)…or it’s simply just what we are here to do, but have not yet learned or discovered why yet.

I could never have known 11 years ago, when I first began an online support group for those living or being diagnosed with MS, that would be the moment of discovering my passion which would lead to my purpose.

I began an online support group, to reach out as far as I could, simply to try to help anyone who might be going through the daunting process of getting diagnosed, my goal was to help guide them through the mundane process, hopefully saving them years of the same thing that I went through myself, not getting diagnosed and progressing in the disease. I met so many friends during those years that I ran that site online, many of whom are still friends with me today and for that I’m so grateful.

My journey of finding my passion and purpose didn’t stop there, I became a patient advocate speaking to others who have MS and how to live well with it and then eventually I began taking yoga, oh and that’s when the journey took a huge turn, I had NO clue what getting on my yoga mat for the first time some 9 years ago would bring to me.

It’s dawned on me that one can possibly see the yoga mat as a stumbling block, (something that one might think they can’t do) it’s not easy to  approach even the idea of yoga especially when living with an unpredictable disease such as MS, or any chronic illness or injury for that matter, it can seem intimidating at first, simply because we have yet to learn that it’s not about anyone else’s practice but our own, we haven’t learned yet what yoga really means and to then to be in a room with others who are already familiar with the practice can seem especially daunting.

Crazy things happen when one is either suggested to do yoga or we might entertain doing yoga, the ego kicks into high gear, it starts to speak up, that crazy voice inside our heads trying to convince us that this is silly, you can’t do this, or even better, what the heck is this going to do for you? Well what didn’t it do for me? My mat, which seemed like a stumbling block at first became my stepping stone. It became the place that I first sat still and discovered inner peace, where I discovered that I can actually be one with my mind, body and spirit and the MS that was so noisy, first became quiet, it’s where I found balance, yes, not physical balance right away, but emotional and spiritual balance and yes eventually some physical balance. It became that space that I couldn’t stop returning to because it felt so good, I didn’t know why and I didn’t need to know why. Being on my yoga mat was like a magic carpet and eventually that magic seeped into my life, off of the mat, into my home life, when I was driving, sitting in traffic, waiting on long lines and especially when I’d have a flare up, instead of focusing on the fear, I learned to go to my breath and focus there.

After practicing for 4 years, the invite to participate in a teacher training was offered and after a lot of thought, and self doubt, (ego telling me that there was no way I could remember what was going to be taught), I took the training with absolutely NO intention of teaching…ah but the Universe knew better, there was a bigger plan, not only did I learn, was I able to retain the information taught to me, then I realized that I did want to teach, but not to the general public, there are plenty of awesome teachers out there who do that. I wanted to do something different, I have a gift of knowing what it’s like to live with MS, an invisible at most times, chronic illness and I knew what yoga can do to help those living with any disease or condition but especially MS and I wanted to bring yoga to those who are living with MS, gift it to them as it was gifted to me. Granted at the beginning I was afraid to actually teach (ego trying to convince me that I wasn’t good enough, sure enough, wouldn’t remember what I was taught, all self doubt),so I began a Free Yoga for MS Program with two amazing yoga studios who offered out their space and time to give free yoga to those living with MS, however I would only demo until eventually I was pretty much forced to get in front of the room and find my voice, it didn’t come easily but eventually it came. I began teaching and learning through my students as I taught and it was great!

Then as things would happen with a disease such as MS, I had a relapse, a stumbling block, the worst one ever and after being in the hospital and rehab coming home to limited PT, what brought me back was the same thing that taught me so much, my yoga practice, one pose every day until I built my strength up. It was as simple as sitting firmly in staff pose literally working to flex my feet and point my toes evenly up towards the ceiling, pressing my thighs into the ground and oh yes, grounding down through my sit bones while sitting up tall, holding myself up at the same time without losing my upright posture…staff pose (dandasana) soon became my greatest challenge, but with time I did it, then it was plank (top of a push up), holding it as long as I could, engaging every single muscle in my body, waking up all of my muscles that had become atrophied during the relapse. In time I came back and learned so much more about myself than I had known before, learned so much more that I could take back and share with people, the one major lesson is to never give up.

MS relapse’s ‘look’ like stumbling blocks, however they are stepping stones, they come into our lives for a reason, we can ask why me, why now but then the answer is, if not you, who and if not now when? Is there ever a good time? No there isn’t, but that’s the funny thing about life, we can’t ‘plan’ out every moment and yes life throws us stumbling blocks but these blocks are placed there for us to learn, to find out our strength and then to take what we learn and share it with others…

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” Maya Angelou

I’ve since discovered my passion and my purpose, I love to learn and I love to share what I learn, I teach, I advocate, for myself and for others. I try my best to help those who are newly diagnosed. I get the absolute joy of sharing the practice of yoga with others living with MS or any chronic illness and I get the amazing gift of seeing the shift, changes and growth as their practice unfolds for them as it’s meant to.I have MS for a reason and it’s a good reason, if I didn’t have it, if I wasn’t ‘living’ it, I couldn’t understand and I couldn’t be of service in the same capacity that I am now. It’s been a gift, having MS, I’ve said that before however I clearly see it more than ever now.

When life throws me a stumbling block, I ask myself, what is this here to teach me? What can I learn from this moment, from this bump in the road?

I listen for the lesson, then I stare right at it and step on it and then over it …because, the only way out is through….

Namaste

Lisa Bachrach Zeankowski

 

Acupuncture and Massage Therapy with Michel A. Solounias, MS,L.A.c.,LMT

 Acupuncture and Massage Therapy with Michel A. Solounias, MS,L.A.c.,LMT

Quality and Affordable Care

Licensed and Board Certified Acupuncturist and Massage Therapist.

“I believe that true health care is a lifestyle that involves physical, mental and emotional maintenance and strong relationships between people and their health care providers. I find that people tend to achieve the highest level of well being when they incorporate a wholistic approach. Taking responsibility for our own health has powerful and long lasting results.”

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Michel A. Solounias, MS,L.A.c.,LMT is a licensed and board certified Acupuncturist in New York State as well as a licensed Massage Therapist. He trained in Chinese Herbal Medicine and holds a Masters Degree in Human Nutrition.

“Working with physical therapy, and utilizing a wholistic approach, these therapies mutually enhance each other in the treatment of many body ailments, such as:

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If your insurance does not cover you the cost for treatment is affordable.

60 minute visit = $70.00
30 minute visit = $35.00

Inquire within. Cash, check, credit and flexible spending accounts accepted

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Arthritis
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Women’s issues
And much more….

Celebrating My Life with Grace and Gratitude

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11 years ago today, the mystery of all of the symptoms that I was having for the previous 6 years was solved, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 17 years ago was my onset of this disease. 17 years later I am so completely grateful and blessed, I have learned so much in all of these years as well as I’m grateful for the gifts MS has brought to me. I have met and befriended so many amazing people, I found out that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was, and not just physically, but mentally. I have discovered that our inner strength is everything and we are not our bodies nor are we the disease or challenges we face. I found out that I have more love and compassion than I ever thought possible and my awareness to the needs of my body as well as the needs of others has heightened tremendously.

MS has taught me self love and self respect, it’s taught me that we need to really listen to our bodies as well as become the very best advocate for ourselves and yes, for others…MS has taught me to live vicariously, fully and totally in the moment and to appreciate every moment, the present is all that we really have and nothing past matters and the future is always uncertain so why worry about it? It has taught me how to handle situations with grace and that we really are not in control, but we are in control of how we prepare and how we react to situations.

MS gave me the gift of being able to stay at home with my kids to raise them and be involved with their school needs as well as their personal needs. MS shares my body with me and we have learned how to co-exist, however MS does NOT define me by any means, if anything it has shown me just how strong I can be and how we (me and this disease) can teach others.

MS is an amazing process and journey, not one to be taken for granted and truly if one chooses to, they can look at their diagnosis as a gift and choose how we are willing to live. I chose to live well and in the best way I know how. I am grateful for the lessons, we have had our ups and downs for sure but in each experience there was a lesson to be learned and one to be shared and taught to others.

I have become an advocate, an activist, a yoga practitioner and a teacher and I have discovered that my true passion is to help others and hopefully bring to as many people as I can the gift that yoga has to offer. I wish to be able to continuously show people through my actions that we are not our bodies but we are spiritual beings living a human experience and that yoga is such a natural way of helping ourselves, mind body and spirit.

My passion is to hopefully inspire as many people as possible to embrace whatever their challenge or obstacle is and open up the opportunity to bring yoga to their lives so that they might experience what I have. Yoga really saves lives as well as shifts how we look at the world and ourselves. Yoga teaches us to live in the moment and to be still and to listen to the amazing silence between our thoughts, as well as it teaches us to listen to the needs of our bodies and yes, yoga has saved my life, in more ways than one and if it weren’t for MS, I’m not sure if I might or might not have found Yoga and all that it has to offer us.

So today I celebrate my 11th year since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and I celebrate 17 years since my life began to shift and change. Happy Anniversary to us! The journey and the lessons will continue and until the day a cure might be found, we will love each other with the greatest unconditional love we can share.

To quote one of my favorite inspirational teachers, Deepak Chopra, “You can believe the diagnosis but you don’t have to believe the prognosis.”

Today is a celebration of my life and that’s how I am embracing this day that changed my life some 11 years ago and it really did change it for the better Namaste Lisa Bachrach-Zeankowski

Living with MS and how Yoga saved my life.

Since 2006 I’ve found Yoga or I should say Yoga found me and that day changed my life. I was diagnosed with MS in 2002 and for the first four years, like many, I allowed the diagnosis of MS to define me and then one day I searched out a yoga class.
I had no idea what it was, or what it would bring to me, all I knew is that I had this friend who was remarkably calm and she did yoga.
What was it about this practice that kept her so centered?  I’d ask myself.  I found a yoga studio where it was small and simple; it had this amazing energy about it and wasn’t “selling” anything but peacefulness.
I had no idea that yoga would bring me so much more than strength and balance (which is what I thought I was looking for).  It took me and still continues to take me on an unbelievable journey of self discovery, stillness, inner peace and balance of mind, body and spirit.
I took on a yoga practice where most begin, at the beginning and eventually built up a strong practice, however this didn’t mean that I could throw myself into a handstand or many inversions that come so easily to many.  It means that I found this space on my mat that was quiet, balanced and peaceful.  I was not judgmental and I was okay with wherever I was each day and I continue to practice yoga and life just that way.
I was content with me and the MS, it was quiet now sitting in the background and no longer standing front and center, and no longer did it define me. Eventually this yoga practice became a way of life.  It’s not just the asana’s (the poses) but it’s the way I live, by the principles of self love, love of others, non-violence in my words and actions and how I treat myself and others.
I literally, without knowing it, took my yoga off the mat and into my personal world and then out to the world where MS meets Yoga and beyond.
In 2010, yoga teacher and then friend offered me to take part in her yoga teacher training, if not to teach (which I had no intention of doing) but to truly understand why I was doing what I was doing and also to deepen my practice.  I accepted her invitation and in June of 2010 after 6 month training I graduated and became a 200 hour certified yoga teacher.
I decided that teaching the general public was not my purpose or my passion but sharing what I had learned and who I was, the person living with MS discovered that yoga can save the life of someone living with MS as well as significantly change that same life in such a positive way.
I have been actively involved in public service by being a team captain for the National MS Society’s Long Island Chapter’s MS Walk and for the past 12 years have raised over $80,000 collectively.  I also ran a 3rd party fundraiser from 2008 through 2012 called Healing and Moving for a Cure, where all monies raised went to a program that I started to provide home health aide assistance to those living with MS. 
Then I chose to start a program that offered free yoga classes to those, like me, who live on limited income and have MS to have yoga in their lives. This program is offered free to our local MS Society on Long Island in collaboration with 2 other yoga studios in my area who have also offered their time and selfless service and for that I’m so grateful.  We run the program for 8 weeks twice a year and during this time anyone who has MS, their friends and/or support partners are offered the opportunity to take classes with yoga teachers that I’ve worked with to find out what they can do rather than what they can’t do.  I also teach one of these free yoga for MS classes during these 8 week sessions twice a year.  I am, like them, a body living with MS but I am also an example of how we can learn to live well with MS.  Yoga helped me find my way, my peace, and my balance.
My hope and prayer is that this program that I began here on Long Island could reach across the country and that every yoga studio would offer such a program from the perspective of someone living with MS.  Unfortunately, I can’t be everywhere but I’m hoping one day I can teach other teachers to teach from the perspective of someone living with a chronic illness like MS so that it might open the door for any ‘body’ to enter the yoga studio, knowing that it is a safe place for them to help guide them to that place that is really within themselves but has only yet to be discovered.
Teaching yoga to someone living with a chronic illness can be challenging. There is a ‘knowing’, a gift that comes from having this disease that allows one to offer out the gift that yoga has brought and to be able to offer that out to others.
Yoga is balance.  It is a moving, living meditation. It’s a way to go inside and quiet the mind. For those moments we are on our mat, the MS or the illness or trouble that one is living with can be quieted as well, if only for a moment and hopefully longer.  It takes practice, life is practice…yoga is practice…yoga is where I find my peace, my center and my balance.
For more information, feel free to contact me directly via email at lbloveslife@optonline.net.  To see the class schedule use this link:http://www.lisabachrach.com/calendar/events/free-yoga-for-ms-program-schedule.  If you live outside the Long Island area and would like to attend a free Yoga class, please know that you are welcome to join us!  The program is open because it is donated to the chapter rather than a chapter run program.
Lisa Bachrach-Zeankowski

Being Mindful, Aware and living in our Consciousness

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Awareness, Mindfulness, living in our Consciousness, these are all words that have become so familiar lately. Most of us have heard the words, noticed the changes within ourselves as we’ve noticed the subtle changes in the world as well as our surroundings, or maybe some haven’t and that’s okay.  “Be the change you want to see in the world”,  has been the most common quote that I’ve seen lately and it really does make sense, change can’t begin in the world until we change from within first, until we look inside of ourselves, at the deepest aspect of who we are, what we want, and how we want to move forward in our lives and all of that can’t be done without being mindful, aware and conscious.
How many of us walk through our lives taking steps, without actually acknowledging the actual steps we are taking? How many breaths do we take without appreciating the fact that we are actually breathing? When the sun comes up in the morning, do you look outside and say thank you and appreciate the fact that you are here to see it? When someone who is in need to speak to you reaches out, do you put down your busy life to listen?
We all can get caught up in the busyness of life, rushing through every aspect of what we have to do, when it has to be done, I have to get here, I have to get there, I have this to do, that to do and I have no time to do this or that and before we know it we might lose sight of the important things, the small things that actually mean the world to us.  We wind up walking or running through life anxiously getting to the next thing, not noticing the small things, like the steps we are taking to get to where we are walking or running to. We wind up not even realizing that our breath has become short and rapid instead of slow, controlled and appreciated, maybe even filling our lungs to capacity and allowing them to completely empty. We might not notice the beauty of the sun as she rises and the amazing wonder as the moon comes in to take her place at dusk. And we might get so busy that we can’t take the time to hear or spend precious moments with those whom we love the most whether that be friends or family, even though we mean to, because we assume they’ll just always be there….until the moment they’re not because yes, sometimes that. the other part of life happens too.
Mindful aware movements make a whole world of difference. Living with MS has taught me to appreciate awareness, slowing down and living in my consciousness. I have to step, walk, talk and do all things mindfully to be sure that I don’t drop, fall or hurt myself. By learning this lesson of slowing down and mindful movement it’s allowed me to actually ‘stop and smell the roses’ so to speak in every aspect of my life. Things many rush through, I no longer rush through, including the act of eating…why “nibble through life when you can taste it right”? (someone wise taught me that)
MS can be disabling if you allow it, just as life with it’s ups and downs can be, however when we slow down, take a step back into awareness and move consciously through life, we can see the beauty and appreciate all things, even and including the gift of something as large as Multiple Sclerosis.
I call Multiple Sclerosis a gift because even now, when again it’s being a challenge for me, I keep in mind that MS and it’s challenges brings the ‘gift’ of awareness. The gift is the awareness and mindfulness and living in my consciousness. I stop and slow down. I stop and appreciate that today I got up and walked, I stop and realize that today I woke up and noticed the sun and tonight I will notice the moon as she takes her place in the night sky. I am aware of my breath and I take full deep breaths completely filling and emptying out my lungs. I notice that I’m not alone on my journey, and that I have friends as well as all I have to do is go within for the answers. I am mindful of my friends and am here for them when they need me, despite my own clutter. 
Most importantly I am mindful, aware and conscious that I am in need of taking care of me first so that I can go on to enjoy this great life that I’ve been gifted with. I am grateful for today as I was able to write this blog….Namaste
Lisa Bachrach

Lifting the veil.. Satya speaking my authentic truth

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I’ve discovered there is a fine line between hope and denial. I’ve been living more in denial than I have ever realized and now hope is all I have left.

For years, maybe even longer than I realized, I’ve been the leader, the support group, as many say ‘an inspiration’. I’m seen as a strong woman and someone who can withstand anything. I strive to always ‘look’ good despite how I’m really feeling inside. I was asked recently to take a look at that, where is that coming from? What is it about me, that feels that I have to “appear” to be okay, when I’m really not okay? “Why or what is it about me that always has to do it right?”  The answer came to me quite easily,” “it seems to be what’s expected of me.”

Isn’t it sad? When I can be feeling as sick as the many other’s diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, feeling as if I’d like to stick my head in the ground, not get up and do my hair, put on my makeup and ‘appear” to be just fine, for fear of judgment from those who hold me to the highest of standards?

Who set those standards? Did I unintentionally set them when I spent the last 8 years fighting a disease the best that I knew how to by keeping a positive attitude, hiding behind the mask of what I was really feeling? By not allowing myself to be true and showing the anger that this disease makes me feel? Did I create this monster by allowing everyone that I care about to think that just because I look good, I must not really be feeling as badly inside because on the outside I appear to be okay?
I offer out so much of myself, somehow, somewhere in the shuffle I forgot to or missed the part where I’m supposed to say, “hey wait, I need help.”
I guess, I assumed that those closest to me, those within my MS world, those who love me, those who think that they know me, could look deeper than the surface and intuitively know that there is more going on than the pretty face that they see.

My body is changing, the disease has been changing, It’s an ongoing process, it never gets better, it has it’s moments where I seem okay, some days much better than others. I am grateful for so much, I’ve been practicing yoga, kept a mostly positive attitude, I eat healthy and if I hadn’t done all of that these past 8 years, I’m nearly sure this disease would have knocked me down by now. I will continue to do all of this, but now my options have changed, I have to go on medications that have their risks, may or may not work and there are parts inside of me that are breaking, that are not visible to others.
People seem surprised when I tell them that my disease has been getting worse, but here’s the thing,  I’ve been feeling it inside of me,  yet I sit in the silence of my pain for fear I might lose all that I’ve come to love because they might not be able to handle what is happening to me. In the back of my mind I wonder if I say too much will I spook them again? Where is the point where I’m allowed to talk about what is going on with me and the point of scaring someone? I’m scared, doesn’t that matter? Am I weak because I’m allowing myself to fear? Am I weak because I’m allowing myself to feel?

There is judgment everywhere, gosh I was even called out at my own doctors office. Someone saw me there with my cane, this person, not meaning to be hurtful, thought because they see me on facebook, through my pictures and because  I “appear” to be fine, gave me a look that was oh so obvious. this look was later confirmed when in a private message they wrote to me and asked why I was using a cane, they also stated how surprised they were to see me this way because they see how “good” I look on facebook, of course I understood where this came from but, this came from one of my own. Can anyone imagine how that must have felt to be called out by one of our own? I use my cane when I have to, unwilling participant in this disease I call it, but I have bad days just like many of us who have MS. I don’t like to use my supportive devices but do when I have to. Even my yoga mat is a supportive device, it’ keeps me quite grounded.

I’ve heard supportive things, “Lisa you are the strongest person I know, you’ll get through this”, Lisa, you inspire me and so many others, you’ll beat this” and while all of these things are wonderful to hear,and touch me deeply, the problem is the burden of it all. It’s like a double edged sword, in one way it helps me to come out of that dark place and picks me back up but in other ways it doesn’t allow me the support that I need, if I’m caring for everyone else, when do I get cared for?  How can I be this pillar of strength, this inspiration to so many, when I at this very moment can’t find that strength to inspire myself?

What I need is my community, my friends, those people that I love to hold me up and say to me, “what is it you need from me to help you through this, I’m here for you, what can I do for you? Sadly no one has said this to me, not one person and although this might sound like a pity party to some, this is me being my authentic self, speaking my truth.

I’ve done my part in all of this,and I’m proud of it.  I’ve done seva, I’ve been fighting this MonSter we call MS, I will continue to fight it the best way that I know how to, but even the strongest of people sometimes need to lean on someone. Sometimes we need to just look like shit because that is truly how we feel, it’s not because we want attention or feel that if we ‘look’ the part that then someone will notice how sick we really are, it’s simply because we don’t feel well.

How many of the normal people you know when they have a flu, get up, take a shower, put on makeup, do their hair just so that they look good despite of how they feel, so to impress those around them or so that no one will be able to see what they are trying to hide? I’m nearly sure no one does that, so why is it unacceptable for us? Why is it that when I feel so awful, that I can’t just lay in bed, not get up, not impress, not look good without feeling as if I’ll be judged for doing it, or fear that I’ll be looked at as if I’m letting myself go, when that’s not what I’m doing, it’s just that I feel awful and have no desire to ‘look the part”

The time has come for me to be truthful, to lift the veil, I am angry, I am hurting inside, I am in need of support. I don’t want or need pity, I don’t need someone feeling sorry for me, that’s not what I’m about, that’s not what any of us are about.  The way I hold someone else’s hand when they are in need, the way I intuitively know how to help, the way I can look inside and see what it is in someone’s heart that will help, that’s what I need. I don’t want to have to explain or whine about my problems, I just want to be understood. I can’t  necessarily control what is going on, I’m fighting it the best way that I know how to, but when I need to sleep, rest or take a break, just know why…don’t ask …maybe do something to make It easier …

Satya Truth will set you free…

What is Santosha~Contentment and how do we find it?


Santosha~ Contentment is the second Niyama in the 8 limbs of Yoga We all would love to come to this place of contentment, in the yoga philosophy, otherwise known as Santosha. I believe that for the most part, I have found this place within my life and it all began the day I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  

Although this might sound odd to most, but it’s when something throws you off or pulls the rug out from under you, a series of events begin to happen. This series of events can either take you to a place of contentment or a place of fear. There are always two paths one can choose to take, I chose contentment, however, at that time I had no idea that was the path I was about to embark upon.

Santosha involves the practice of gratitude and joyfulness offers, attempting at your very best to maintaining calm no matter what, keeping equanimity through all that life offers or even throws at you. This state of mind does not depend on external causes, whether physical, mental or an act of God.

~So how did I come to my Santosha~
In 2002, a single mom of 3 working and doing what all moms do, taking care of my children, participating in after school events, sports, homework for a child in kindergarten, one in nursery school and a one year old, I was doing what most were doing, making it all work. I had a series of issues for years prior and during but no answers, until September 24, 2002. After many tests for unknown causes of symptoms that went on for years, a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was made and with that my very first exacerbation and the endless navigation of discovering the new me.

After I was diagnosed, I called the National MS Society, I was on a mission, I started my first MS walk team, began an online support group and pretty much surrounded myself with only those who understood what it was like to have MS.  Apparently all of this external keeping myself active, surrounding myself with a lot of MS only activities kept a very strong focus on this disease which now began to define me. I went every year having a relapse on my diagnosis date and sunk into the pity party that most know as the MS blues. I kept on going though, each year doing the MS walk, being a team captain, raising money, going to conferences, running my online support group, met wonderful people, however it was all about Multiple Sclerosis. I had no idea who Lisa was, if someone asked me to define myself or tell them about me, back then, I’d have said,  “I’m a mom, I’m so and so’s girlfriend, I’m an ex wife, I have MS. I had no hobbies, no outside interests, I was a book with blank pages.”

It wasn’t until November 2007 that something in me decided it was time to change something, I didn’t know what it was, but something had to give. I didn’t feel ‘balanced’ and I don’t mean that in a physical way. I started a search for a yoga studio, figuring this will help with my balance and strength, little did I know just how much it would help, and so much more than physically. Once again, I had no idea what was in store for me once I sat down on that yoga mat.

I sat on my mat for the first time in January 2007 and haven’t stopped doing yoga since. Something happened that day, I can’t quite put it into words, but there was a shift of energy, there was ‘balance’, not physical balance, the balance I found came from deep within me. There it was that moment, my aha moment, I found out that inner peace, balance and empowerment doesn’t come from outside of us, it comes from deep inside of us.  We can do everything for everyone, raise money, educate others, totally give of ourselves, however if you don’t discover who you are, if you don’t find peace within, there can’t be contentment. Without that state of mind all of your actions are not coming from a place of ‘gratitude and joyfulness’, it’s coming from a place of fear, you’re on auto pilot. Finding out who you are, taking care of you,  before you start helping others is of utmost importance. What’s that saying? “You can’t help anyone else until you help yourself first.” How true that is.

In August of 2008 I had my first Healing and Moving for a Cure 3rd party fundraiser, named after two of my friends mom’s who passed away of complications of MS, with the money raised from this fundraiser, we started a program at the National MS Society’s Long Island Chapter for home health aide assistance, This program is called The Kathleen Valachi~Catherine Caldarella Memorial Fund Home Health Aide Assistance Program.  We have had this fundraiser now every year since 2008 and look forward to repeating it every year until the day nursing homes are no longer used in lieu of homecare for those living with MS.

I am still an active member and team captain of the NMSS LI Chapter and collectively my team and I have raised over $50,000 over the past 8 years since I’ve been diagnosed and all money raised during the MS walk also goes towards my program within our chapter. Since being diagnosed I have been a patient advocate for Biogen Idec and have spoken at several MS informational events, bringing real life, “how to live well with MS”, stories  to those just like myself.

In June of 2010 after 3 years of taking yoga as a practitioner my friend and yoga teacher, Laurie Ahlemann , felt that I was ready and recommended that I enter into her teacher training program at Long Island Yoga School, and study to earn my 200 hour yoga teaching certification. I had no intention of teaching, I went in just to deepen my practice, so I thought.

I am very proud to say that I completed my training, and have since started a Free Yoga for MS program. This program takes place at Simplicity Yoga Studio at Kings Park and Absolute Yoga Studio in Woodbury with an evening program being worked on as well at another location, soon to be announced. Without the generosity of these studio owners, Rosanne Sihler, Leslie Luft and all of those who give of themselves by volunteering to teach this program wouldn’t be possible.

When I graduated my teacher training in June, my attitude towards not wanting to teach had shifted, like so many other things along this journey. What began as a ‘deepening’ of my practice took on a new life. This teacher training was a gift to me, how does one repay a gift? You gift it back…My gift back is to bring yoga back to those living with MS, like myself, to show them that if they too believe that they can, that anything is possible.

Today if someone says, Lisa, how do you define yourself?  I’m a happy empowered, balanced woman, who practices yoga (not just physically, it’s a way of life), reads, loves to laugh, has a great sense of humor, finds it very rewarding to help others. I have 3 children, one of whom is in college, I happen to have MS and I’m doing great!

I truly believe if those we bring yoga to, within the MS Community, can spend just a moment on their mat, like I did 4 years ago and sit quietly, even if it’s just to breathe,  leaving the MS outside that door of the studio and find out who they are, if they can go within and maintain calm, if they can somehow find it within themselves to keep equanimity through all that life throws at them at one time or another, then perhaps, if only for that hour on the mat, they too, will find their Santosha

Namaste…



Lisa Bachrach

Absolute Yoga Studio
Absolute Yoga Studio
Simplicity Yoga Studio

simplicity-yoga""

Acupuncture and Massage Therapy with Michel A. Solounias, MS,L.A.c.,LMT
National MS Society Long Island Chapter
National Multiple=