Langara grad chooses yoga over meds

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Former Langara student Lindsey Luckey teaching yoga to a group of MS patients at the MS Natural Health Solutions Symposium at the Vancouver Public Library. Photo by Ash Kelly.
Former Langara student Lindsey Luckey teaching yoga to a group of MS patients at the MS Natural Health Solutions Symposium at the Vancouver Public Library. Photo by Ash Kelly.

Yoga and nutrition have replaced medication for 26-year-old Lindsey Luckey, who lives with multiple sclerosis.

Luckey was studying fine arts at Langara when she was diagnosed in 2007. After graduating she returned to Langara and completed her yoga teacher training in February 2013. Now an instructor, she taught a chair yoga session at the MS Natural Health Strategies Symposium last Saturday.

During the early stages of her disease Luckey took drugs prescribed by her neurologist, but the side effects were worse than any MS symptoms she had experienced.

“I would always wake up in cold sweats. My whole body shaking, fingers and toes just aching, my whole body aching,” said Luckey.

After seeing a pamphlet for iyengar yoga at an MS clinic, Lindsey made the decision to forgo medication, and instead manage her disease alternatively.

Iyengar focuses on posture and technique, but is also adaptive; allowing students the full benefits of poses, which is why Luckey says it is appropriate for people with MS. The practice incorporates props like blocks, straps, walls and chairs to assist students.

“One day, they might be feeling great, they can stand on one leg no problem, and then the next week’s class they might just feel like they’re spinning and they have no balance,” says Luckey.

The benefits of yoga

The benefits of yoga for those with MS include strength and balance improvement, especially in the legs, which are commonly affected early in the disease.

Luckey stresses that physical improvements, important as they are, aren’t the only benefit of practicing yoga.

“It helps with a lot of the emotional effects that come along with having MS. Especially fear…How am I going to support myself? Am I going to be able to have family? Am I going to be able to have kids one day?… How am I going to pay for all my healthcare treatments and my supplements, and vitamins? That’s huge, there’s always this underlying fear with MS,” she says.

Through yoga, Luckey is able to overcome the anxiety of living with MS. “What it really comes down to is acceptance, just being OK with where you are, being grateful for what you do have, “ she says.

Luckey will be returning to Langara in March to take a course specializing in yoga instruction for students with mobility issues and chronic conditions.  She hopes to find a space where she can offer a holistic approach to MS patients incorporating her training as a yoga instructor and a nutritionist.

“In addition to a regular yoga practice, following a specific diet has also had a huge impact on my illness,” she says.

Anarudha Hannah of the Langara yoga teacher training faculty spoke highly of Luckey, who will be welcomed back to the program in March to complete Teaching Yoga Techniques for Chronic Conditions and Senior Students.

“Lindsey has embraced life and the experiences it has given her. She is exceptional in her attitude and outlook, positive and forward facing,” said Hannah.

Reported by Ash Kelly

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