Hamilton Regional Multiple Myeloma Support Group
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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                                                Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lori shared information regarding the use of Vitamin C when taking Velcade. Vitamin C should not be taken with Velcade as it inhibits the activity of Velcade against MM.

Today's topic is Yoga and the MS Society of Canada.

Lori introduced the speaker, Nancy Blacklock.

Nancy was kind enough to leave her presentation, in writing, for my use in preparing our minutes. I have scanned the printed pages. Please enjoy the following Yoga Overview in Nancy's words.

Yoga Overview I have been teaching Yoga for 8 years. My specialty is relaxation and my main focus is working with people who for whatever reason cannot attend a regular Yoga class. As well as my regular classes, I teach at several retirement and nursing homes. I also work for the MS Society of Canada in Hamilton teaching adapted Yoga classes. Yoga is an ancient practice which began in India 5000 years ago. It was introduced to the west about 100 years ago. Many studies have been done to prove the claims of Yoga - the conclusions made are that Yoga works. Yoga itself means Yoke or Union. This union is mind, body, and spirit and ultimately a union with the divine.

You do not need to contort yourself into a pretzel or do handstands on a mountain to practice Yoga. The 2 most important aspects of Yoga are relaxation and breathing.

The focus of each session is listening to your body. If it hurts, don't do it, pay attention to the messages that your body is sending you.

Most people breathe incorrectly. Singers and wind instrument musicians all breathe deep into the diaphragm. That is how we all should breathe.

Breathing deep into the belly is deep and relaxed. It provides a maximum amount of air into the body allowing the blood to be oxygenated, toxins to be expelled and the body to relax.

One of the most important things you can do in Yoga is called Pranayama or breathing exercises. Initially we start with complete Yoga Breath which teaches deep breathing and starts the body on a journey of breathing correctly.

People who are stressed upper chest breathe. Upper chest breathing does not fully ventilate the lungs causing a shortfall in oxygen and a build up of toxins. When somebody is stressed they breathe quickly and with shallow breaths.

By working on deep diaphragmatic breathing you can make the body feel calmer and more relaxed and ultimately reduce the stress in the body. Deep breathing will eventually help the body to reduce fat stores because the same way a fire needs oxygen to burn, your body needs oxygen to burn fat. Deep breathing will not turn you into a supermodel overnight but will help you to burn excess fat.

The second most important and usually the most difficult thing for people to learn is to relax. Your body must relax in order to refresh and rebuild. Once you can relax your body and your mind a general feeling of well being will take over.

We are bombarded each and everyday with stresses, environmental, physical, emotional and social. The stresses build up like a weight on our shoulders. If we can take time each day to relax fully our body can come to a state of rest and eventually the stresses in our lives can be put into perspective. Once your body realizes that is likes to be relaxed it will become a much more desired state and will become automatic.

Stresses cannot be removed completely from our lives but once we deal with them more effectively they will no longer control and take over our lives.

To take relaxation to a much deeper level you can study and practice meditation. Meditation will calm the mind completely and allow for a whole new level of calm and relaxation.

Then we get to the Yoga that everyone is familiar with - Asanas or poses and postures.

Every Yoga session should start with centering and breathing. We follow with warm ups to prepare the muscles and then go into the asanas. It is important that everything be kept in balance. What we do in one direction we repeat in the opposite direction. If we do a forward bend we follow it with a backward bend. One side then the other side. Working in this manner allows the body to be balanced and flexible.

Another component is balance and strength training. These poses are not like lifting weights but are still just as difficult if there are any physical limitations. That is why the adapted Yoga DVD was put together and why I enjoy the adapted Yoga classes.

The DVD was put together by the MS Society of Canada with the help of a grant from the government of Ontario. The DVD is set up so that you can do the asanas lying down, sitting or standing. You work at your own pace and your own level. There is a large emphasis on relaxing and breathing throughout the entire DVD. We have had a lot of positive feedback about the DVD and we are very proud of the project.

It is not necessary to have the DVD. Many people work from books or TV shows as well as classes.

The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body and not push past your own limits.

A good Yoga teacher will help with postures and alignment but will respect your individual limits. You should never be pushed or forced into a pose.

Most of my classes are taught as chair yoga or adapted yoga. This allows for some comfort and stability so that you can focus on relaxing.

We are going to do a small adapted Yoga session. Since I do not know each of you and your limitations I must emphasize that you do not do anything that your body does not want you to do. Listen to your body.

We will center our bodies. Do a pranayama or deep breathing exercise and then work on some asana or poses. We will finish with focusing and centering.

If anyone has any questions feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer what I can.

I did bring DVDs with me and they can be purchased to day at the member price of $15.00 is anyone is interested.

Now let's begin. Sitting comfortably, have your eyes lightly closed.

We all participated in a brief session , after which Nancy took questions and showed portions of the video to anyone interested.

Next Meeting: Saturday, May 8, 2010

Speaker: Elizabeth Obermeyer-Kostash from the JCC Patient and Family Resource Centre