Posts Tagged ‘Yoga’

Gratitude for connections

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Every connection, every moment, every time we share a moment, anytime we are in the presence of another human being, it is a gift; whether we are aware of this or not it is a blessing to share these moments, it is a gift for both the giver and the receiver.

When someone gives of themselves and when someone is receiving, energy is exchanged and both parties benefit. Being aware of this is so important, being aware that we are being blessed with this gift, that someone else is allowing us their time, space and energy is equally as important, it is such an honor to be part of someone’s life, their time, their moments and their journey.

I recognize every beautiful spirit that has allowed me to share in these, ‘their’ moments, it is a gift and it is with absolute gratitude that say, I see you, I hear you, I appreciate you and I am so thankful for you.

Lisa Bachrach-Zeankowski

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

 

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

Shifting Our Perspective

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My friend asked me the other day “how are you feeling?”  my response was “oddly very good”, however not so odd I believe since all it takes is a simple ‘shift’ in perspective and attitude and anything can happen.

I was going through some very personal stuff with someone who was otherwise, my ‘soul mate’ so I believe he is.  We’ve gone through a 10 year relationship, have gone our separate ways and somehow found our way back to a friendship with the possibility of maybe rekindling what was once our relationship, so I was led to believe.

Unfortunately time showed that not much had changed, as I let him in closer and I allowed my heart to open back up, what felt like ‘games’ began.

From first glance, my first glance, HE was putting me through hell, however on second glance, I was putting myself through hell, I was allowing this to happen to me. I was allowing myself to cry, not get out of bed, to ‘sit’ in the sorrow of having to mourn this loss yet again. After a full week of tears, cord cutting, yet again, and reaching out to like minded friends who understand, came my shift in perspective, it was as simple as this;  Lisa you can either stay here and sit in this until you start to manifest dis-ease which is so easy for the body to do when you have chaos and create blockages in the body from emotional turmoil or you can get yourself back to you, where you find your peace.

It was day 8 of my ‘feeling sorry for myself’ mode when I received an email from the Times Square Alliance to let me know about this years Summer Solstice, an event that I look forward to participating in every year.  I registered for the information of when to register and then there it was, a video of the class that I took on June 21, 2011. I hit play and started to watch it from my desk chair, slowly my body started to soften, I was able to feel the endorphins shooting off and I was slowly finding that place inside of myself where I find peace, and something whispered to me, “Lisa why are you watching it? Why not do the practice?” There it was, the whisper, was it my voice, my higher self reminding me or something Divine trying to remind me where my soul really is? I’m not sure, however I stopped the video, rewound it and rolled out my mat, here in my bedroom and did the hour and a half practice and there I found total peace, on my mat, deep within myself. Times Square and that beautiful sunny day became my moment on a Thursday afternoon in January, and the chaos that I had allowed into my life suddenly stopped.

I remembered who I am, what makes me happy and what brings me peace.  That Saturday I returned to my yoga studio and did my practice as well and again felt that peace that can only come from within,. I started or re-started to read the books that help to remind me how lucky I am to be where I am at this moment, I began to take at least a minute out of my day to be still sometimes more than a minute.I started to reawaken and be grateful for doing so and slowly but surely I realized that going back to the old ways was what I needed to do.

Sometimes or actually very often our road is so bumpy and we often deter from our path. and that’s okay. When we are on that new path the one we followed, that’s when we ask ourselves the questions, what is this here to teach me, am I in the right place, what it is that makes me happy? What is my purpose? Do we continue on that path or find our way back to the one we started on?

I have learned that the bumps are also there so that we can learn our lessons, without these we don’t grow so they are very much needed. It’s okay to get lost and feel sad, it’s okay to feel as if our world is crumbling down around us. Sometimes we need to fall in order to get up stronger. Sometimes you have to love and lose and sometimes we love and lose the same person in order to learn that we are capable of loving at all, or maybe it’s as simple as there was unfinished business between the two souls. I do know that no one can make us happy but ourselves and yes, I am happy, despite this, I am truly happy.

The lesson for me is to know when to know when to walk away, when to know the time is right to say it’s okay to love but not stay, to move forward and let go. Let go with love and not allow myself to create dis-ease within my body so that I can fulfill my purpose, what ever that might be. I might not know my full purpose but what I do know is that it’s not to sit in my pajamas, at home on a daily basis not doing the things that keep me healthy and feeling good.

So when my friend asked me “how are you feeling” and my response was ‘oddly, very good” , I realize now that the reason I feel so good is because I put  down the anger, resentment, hostility, betrayal, guilt and all things that create dis-ease and got back to ME and focused on the positive stuff, feeling good, doing my yoga practice and not just the physical practice but living yoga, breathing yoga. I became more focused on remembering how important it is to stay the path, keep the focus and stay true to myself and last but certainly not least surround myself with like minded friends who love from their true hearts and a true place.

My perspective has shifted, I’m feeling good, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Namaste

Lisa

"When the Ego Sees an Obstacle the Soul Sees an Opportunity”

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So many times we debate whether or not do do something, either by someone else, or more importantly by ourselves. Many times it’s ego that keeps us out of our own way and it’s our soul that allows us to forge ahead.

“When ego sees an obstacle, our soul sees an opportunity” Mel Hermann via Seane Corne.

This quote repeated by a very special yoga teacher while I was on vacation and will ring in my head as I forge ahead facing the many challenges in my life as a reminder as well as a positive mantra for me, I hope it will for you too.

Our soul always knows what is better for us, all we have to do is ‘listen’, close our eyes, go deep within and listen to the whispers of our heart. That is our soul speaking to us. “Opportunity awaits you, go forward, I love you”

How many of you wondered; can I do yoga?  Will I be able to do this? Should I do this?  Before finally coming to that place in your heart that said, yes I can.

How many of us throughout our daily lives are faced with circumstances, otherwise known as challenges, and we are asked to question whether or not we can do it, either by ourselves or by someone else. 

And how many times do we question these things and find out that if we face the challenge head on, how brave we are?

How many of us were told that we have MS and decided AT THAT very moment not to give up and how many of us KNOW someone who was diagnosed with MS and watched as THEY chose to forge ahead bravely and not give up?

I know this past year, and in the past 81/2 years I’ve faced many challenges, not only with MS, but in my personal life, from striving to become a yoga teacher, to trying to overcome my fear of teaching to even getting up in front people to speak….yet each time I’m faced with these challenges, I also ask myself, to make a choice…and each time I choose to be brave and forge ahead, knowing that in the end courage allows MY dreams to come to fruition. 

My dream to bring the gift of yoga to all of you is proof of that.

When we face something others might turn away from THAT is courage.

When we fear it, it takes courage to admit that we fear it and then it takes courage to overcome it. We can’t really have one without the other can we?

Before beginning your practice each time you come to your mat, I ask you to set an intention, whether it’s being grateful for all that you have or for the simple fact that you all have overcome fear by showing courage at one time or another, or maybe your intention is for someone else that you know, who has also done that.

 I’d like to leave you all with this quote by M. Scott Peck…“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is doing something in spite of fear. It is taking the step towards your dreams in spite of the odds against you.” 

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…



Home Is Where The Heart Is

We have all heard or used that saying “Home is where the heart is”.

Recently I’ve had to really delve deeply into this, and search within my heart for answers to many questions. Am I where I’m supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing and am I happy doing it the way that I am? Now many people would immediately think, oh she must be talking about her relationship, however they couldn’t be further from the truth, but when something tugs at your insides and you’re not sure you are where you should be, it can hurt every relationship in your life, including the most intimate ones and that’s when it’s most important to look inside.

I’ve spent the last 4 months discovering different things, experiencing Yoga in different ways and trying hard to adjust to a new way of learning as well as teaching, and maybe this is where my conflict lies, I’ve been “trying”.

Shouldn’t something that is right come naturally to us? Yes, there are challenges and moments of panic, the ego kicks in and makes you think that you can’t, however this I truly believe isn’t the case here. Sometimes when doors are opened, it’s for a reason. Maybe it’s so you can walk through them specifically so you can experience something new and different?  Maybe it’s even to just show you what else is available to you so that you can decide what road or path it is you want or need to take? Maybe it’s part of the lesson. Maybe it’s just another way to help one recognize their authentic self? Whatever the ‘maybe’ might be, in this case, as in every case, it’s definitely a lesson, there is a teacher or two involved (one of them being yourself) and as always whether the experience has been all good, all bad or a combination of both, something very valuable has been learned.

I have also spent the last 2 months struggling with a decision and even more so over the last month over what to do with this conflict I’m having. I’m not a ‘quitter’, I don’t even like the power that is given to that word and I also struggle with who gives that word it’s power. Is it me, is it my ego or is it my fear of those I love most judging me for what they don’t understand the decision I need to make and they refer to it as ‘quitting’ not understanding that I don’t see it exactly that way? To help me work through some of this I’ve asked my nearest and dearest friends for advice, all of whom have graced me with their wisdom and their understanding. I’ve looked to my mentors and those I respect and I’ve been so lucky to not have any one of them to tell me what it is I should do. Not one of them said “you should do this or that”.

I was  given very good advice, “Lisa, I think you need to get back on your mat, not for anyone else, but for yourself”, how true that is…I miss who I feel I was before this venture that I took on, I miss the calm that was me.

I was told, “look into your heart, it will never lead you wrong, Sometimes we fear doing the right thing for ourselves because ego puts a different view on it. When clear and sitting in your heart center you will have no doubt of what u need to do. Trust yourself.”

And finally the very thing that really made me smile because it echoed the first advice that I was given and deep inside of my heart I knew it to be true; “Get back to your practice. Get back to you.You most certainly will not regret this decision. I am sure and so are you when your ego isn’t shouting obscene things at you.” and finally just a few moments ago I had lunch with someone I highly respect and even though my decision was pretty much already made, I still needed and wanted her wisdom about what it was I was feeling and her thoughts on the choices I have, to either stick it out or let it go. Her soft ears while she listened to me and her advice as always was wonderful, she said  and I’m going to try to get this right..”if you aren’t finding flow; that if you aren’t able to build upon what have already learned, that it’s not helping you to refine your teaching, then your decision to leave is the right one.” She actually said that much more eloquently than I just did, but then again, she’s awesome. 🙂

How crazy is our Ego that we allow it to try to control us, we are aware that it’s happening and yet we still allow it to try?

I guess growth and awareness is knowing that ego is doing this and instead of allowing Ego to get away with it, we do become that change we want to see, we recognize who’s doing that talking,  we overcome that fear and make the choice that ego tries desperately to stop us from making, the one we fear everyone will judge us because of.

We say, you know what, this is what I need, me and it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks, the best I can hope for is that those who I love, those I am close to will understand that this is what I need and this is what serves me best and will make me happy and bring my Santosha (contentment) back…

I need to be home, home is on my mat, where I began, for myself and not because I have to but because I want to.

I was recently asked to read a book, part of my required reading, The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman. I started to read it about a month ago long before I was told that I had to start reading and long before I was told I had to finish it before our February meeting, I was also asked as homework to tell what it is I got from this book, I’ll get to that in a moment.

I picked up my book where I left off a month ago and the very first page that I read began with a story about a man who kept digging a hole for water for his well, and when he didn’t reach it he moved onto a new hole, trying again and each time never giving it time before moving along to begin digging again. Richard explains that we often do this with Yoga and in life as well.

He says “So it is with the restless ego pursuing yoga, seeking ornaments for an improved self-image and new ways of feeling better, but avoiding the true facts of life. When the school or practice becomes difficult-which is precisely the entry point into reality-it is at this crisis point that you really have to drop your pretenses and keep digging deeper into the experience. However, all too often it is right at this juncture that we tend to give up the practice. We move on to a “better” teacher or a “more interesting” school, rather than sticking with it and investigating the inner work that is the purpose of the school and the teachings in the first place. Of course if the teacher (or school) has not done his or her work of sticking with the practice as the point of difficulty, then is could be time to find a different teacher, and this discriminative awareness-knowing when to stick with it and when to move on- is part of what a good yoga practice teaches.” Richard Freeman

After reading this paragraph, on this page, I sat in amazement; first let me tell you first thought, Universe made it so I read this right now, while I was in all of this turmoil of not knowing what to do, then I thought about the passage.  Am I avoiding the true facts of life, has the school or practice just become too difficult so I’m giving up and saying okay let me move onto a “better” teacher or a more “interesting” school?  I listened to my heart and inside of me, not from my ego, I heard a voice say, no Lisa, He is a good teacher and their school is interesting, the work is not become so difficult that you can’t handle it, it’s just this simple, it’s not a good fit and you are discriminatively aware of this, it’s time to move on and “this is what a good yoga practice teaches.”..you’ve learned well.

Answer to the homework assignment, what did you get from reading this book?  So far, I’ve gotten that what I’m feeling is legitimate and the choice I’m making to leave this program is the right one.  As for finishing the book, I will be finishing the book, not because it’s required of me to do so, but solely because I want to, Richard Freeman is an inspiring writer and I’m sure a great teacher who I will not get the pleasure of meeting in February during our training now that my decision has been made…another time I’m sure.  “When the time is right, the teacher will appear.” 🙂

I have learned so much in the last year and a half, I’ve made new friends, lost some and then found our way back. I’ve met new people, done different types of yoga and read all kinds of books. So many experiences, that have been part of this amazing journey and I’m grateful for every minute. Each day, every minute, every step is a lesson and every single person you meet along the way, IS a teacher and within every experience, whether you deem it good or bad, IS a lesson…embrace it. Never regret…acknowledge it, be grateful for it because it molds us to be the person that we become, the person we keep becoming.

I am so grateful for all of you, my friends and all of the experiences each and every one of you have brought to me, that I know you will continue bringing to me, as well as I am grateful for the journey we are on and look forward to continuing on it with you…

With this, I’m going to take that step back onto my mat for not because I have to but because I want to…

Going back to taking care of me and going inwards

To the teacher(s) and the practice that I know and love;

I’m going to keep walking through the amazing doors that have opened for me and enjoy the view;

I’m going to hope that those I love support and understand why

I’m going to reunite with my friends who I dearly miss….

I’m going to continue my journey and help those with MS through the gift of Yoga as it was gifted to me

One day I will get my 500 hour Teacher Certification but for now…

I’m going home…..where my heart is

Lisa Bachrach

200 hour Certified Yoga Teacher

Long Island Yoga School

Namaste

Lisa Bachrach

Absolute Yoga Studio
Absolute Yoga Studio
Simplicity Yoga Studio

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