The class for MS & other neurological conditions is run by Korinna Pilafidis-Williams. It was held at the Maida Vale studios until the first lockdown of 2020 when it was moved online and taught as a weekly livestream class. The class is by application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-Covid-19 at IYMV
My diagnosis brought me to yoga. Through trial and error, I was searching for ways to try and slow down the progression of MS. I found Iyengar Yoga suited me with its focus and awareness, the corrections and attention to detail. Physically I was struggling, losing a grip through MS, and I immediately recognised that Iyengar Yoga would help me.
Since the worsening of my condition, I have not been able to attend a regular yoga class. My physical needs were not easily addressed in my local class. I attended Garth McLean’s workshops for MS and other neurological issues every year but I could not keep up the momentum for self-practice. The new, weekly specialist class has helped bring yoga back into my life in a meaningful way. The regularity of the class gives me the opportunity to build awareness of my body, with attention to the parts that are quiet or numb. As I perform the asanas, I search for reconnection with the ‘silent’ parts of my body. My ambition is to create a meaningful and evolving self-practice that I can do every day.
From ‘my’ corner of the studio at Maida Vale, I look at a photograph of Siddhasana high up on the wall. For me, this image is the idea of how yoga can help a body challenged by MS. Poses like Supta Baddha Konasana, Siddhasana and Padmasana are the opposite of the ‘posture’ MS would have you take: straight legs, pointed toes and folded ‘praying mantis’ arms. I share the same old issues as everyone: remembering to turn the legs in standing postures; lifting the kneecaps; relaxing the shoulders; lifting the chest; remembering to breathe and to relax the face.
The use of props and the support of the team of teachers are excellent. They help me to put strength and meaning into the asanas and to get into postures that I thought would be out of reach. My favourite posture is going into Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) on the chair. I find going upside down refreshing and surprising; it puts me in the moment.
Before the lesson I am often exhausted, but I leave refreshed and with a sense of reconnection with my body. Perhaps the experience of MS is the steady forgetting of one’s own body; it stops responding to external feedback and internal commands. The class gives me back that feedback.The other members of the class are positive and proactive. The teachers are considerate and attentive. I enjoy the push they give me to go a bit further…. There is always further….
Editor: Oliver is now practising chair Sarvangasana daily during lockdown and has established a regular home practice.
I have been attending MS classes at IYMV since they started and they’ve become an integral part of my health regime. This lockdown was worrying for me in particular because I rely on different ‘hands-on’ therapies (like acupuncture and craniosacral therapy), as well as our MS Iyengar classes, to help me manage my condition and I’m not able to access any of them at the moment.
When I heard that we would be doing MS classes online I was relieved to put it mildly! I bought a yoga chair and bolster straight away. I already had a mat, belt and bricks. I was a bit skeptical about how it was all going to work because, in the studio, the dedication and assistance of the teaching team is so hands-on. But thanks to Korinna’s watchful eye and real concern for our wellbeing, the 1.5-hour online class is giving me almost the same benefits as before, with the added bonus of not needing to travel – and that, when dealing with MS, can be a big advantage.
It’s especially valuable to me to learn how to do the asanas properly
at home. It gives me a great sense of independence and I’m more able than before to practise on my own without worrying whether I’m doing it all correctly.
I have found the zoom classes greatly beneficial. With my condition, it is very important during the pandemic to continue having classes without travelling to IYMV. After completing a course of immunosuppressive medicine, I’m highly vulnerable to Covid-19 and have to be in complete isolation. I have also found the classes extremely helpful to my progress and the teaching very thorough. Every student is seen and the feedback is fantastic.
I started zoom MS classes at the peak of a very strong spasticity in the left side of my body. I could barely walk 600m three weeks ago. With the highly professional guidance of our teacher, I learned how to relax my muscles and calm my nervous system as well as gradually improving my strength and range of movement. Today I walked 2.5km. Isn’t it magic!