Hi friends! I am so honored to share my ongoing yoga journey with you!  It is very long but it’s my hope that in sharing my story, someone else will be helped through yoga in the way that yoga has helped me.  I am beyond grateful for this practice that has brought so much joy into my life…but before I get to the good stuff, I better start at the beginning.

It all began for me back in 2014 when a very close friend of mine, who is an ultra-inspiring kids’ yoga teacher, got me the gift of my very first yoga mat.  I subsequently happened to win a gift certificate to a local studio.  The universe was telling me something, and I, although incredibly hesitant and nervous, decided to listen.  In January 2015, I signed up for a beginners’ yoga series and within minutes of the first session beginning, I was hooked.  I attended classes almost every day and was feeling amazing- both inside and out.  I loved the spiritual aspects of yoga just as much as the physical aspects and committed myself to learning as much as I could about the yoga world.  For about 8 months, I was in a routine of practicing regularly.  In August, when it was time to go back to school (I’m a first grade teacher), I let life get in the way and yoga became a once-in-awhile activity for me.  As much as I wanted to attend classes every day, I was just not in the right mindset.  Unfortunately, as the school year went on, work and family and everything else became priorities and my own self-care got put on the back burner.

Fast forward to March of 2016, I woke up one morning thinking I had an ear infection.  I had never had one before, but I figured I was susceptible to such a thing in working with little kids.  A few days later, the entire right side of my head and my entire right arm went numb and tingly.  No doctor could figure out what was wrong with me, so they sent me for an MRI.  I got the phone call two days later from a doctor who told me the results revealed “textural changes on the brain consistent with Multiple Sclerosis.” Um…what??  I had no idea what that meant, but they said I needed to see a neurologist immediately- so I did.  That neurologist told me we would do everything we could to rule out MS.  However, after another month filled with all kinds of uncertainty and tests and procedures, a second MRI showed even more damaged spots on my brain and my doctor gave me the news I will never forget- “Miss Smith, this is, without a doubt, MS and we need you to come in and get an infusion treatment immediately.”  At the time, I knew little about MS.  I just knew we needed to try to find a way to stop my brain from becoming even more damaged.  To say I was scared was an understatement.  I did what the doctors told me, got started on a medication, and thought I was good to go.  This was going to be okay.  I was going to be okay.  What I never expected was that, in July, even though I had been giving myself shots of medication 3 days a week, at a follow up MRI, I had even more active damage on my brain.  I honestly cannot describe how hopeless that felt.  I was doing everything the doctor told me to do.  I was starting to accept this new way of life. How could this be?

  Me at an infusion treatment on the day I was diagnosed with MS.

Me at an infusion treatment on the day I was diagnosed with MS.

Over the next 6 months I hit rock bottom.  I’m talking the lowest and darkest of places I have ever been in my life.  I knew depression was a very common symptom of MS, but no internet research could have prepared me for the incredible sadness and emptiness I felt.  At times it became unbearable.  As the holiday season came to a close and the new year began, I told myself that I would no longer let MS control my life.  I have always been a happy, bubbly person by nature and this person I had become was not Casey.  One day around then, a Facebook post about a new yoga studio in Highland Square came up in my news feed and I figured I should try it out as a part of my plan to take better care of myself.  I expected that I would go to a class here and there if I liked it.  What I didn’t expect was to fall in love.  Not only with yoga all over again, but with the amazing community of yogis at Yoga Squared.  I felt accepted and welcomed every time I walked through the doors.  As I attended more classes, I noticed I started to feel better both physically and emotionally.  I decided to throw myself into a regular practice again.  I felt even better.  I decided to eat more mindfully.  Better still.  I decided to practice using mantras each day.  This was getting GOOD.  One day in March I realized I wasn’t depressed anymore.  I was happy.  I felt like myself again. I was in disbelief…practicing yoga both on and off the mat had literally saved my life.  I should also mention that along my journey, I’ve had the support of an amazing group of family and friends who have stood by me through it all.  I can’t tell you enough how meaningful their support has been in my life.

  My little family

My little family

  My family supporting me at the 2017 MS Walk in May- 1 year after my diagnosis

My family supporting me at the 2017 MS Walk in May- 1 year after my diagnosis

You might not be able to visually see my yogi transformation, but when you see my smile or hear my laugh, you’ll know how it has changed me. Yoga has taught me so much about myself and about the world around me. It has helped me to shift my negative thoughts to a place of positivity.  It has built a confidence that has caused me to realize that I can do hard things.  Most importantly, it has taught me to become a WARRIOR and that things can always be better.  I want you to know that no matter who you are and no matter how you are feeling, yoga has the power to help you and to heal you in ways you never imagined.  And real talk- I do still have days sometimes where I don’t feel well.  But I have learned that it is okay to have those days every now and then, and to let them go and get back to the positive.  I have MS, MS does NOT have me.  I have been so inspired by and so grateful for how yoga has improved my life that I have decided to pursue Yoga Teacher Training beginning in October.  It is my hope that I can eventually teach yoga to others with MS so I can help them see the incredible impact yoga can have.

My yoga journey is always helping me to grow and learn.  Thank you for being a part of it and thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. J  

Much Love and Namaste,

Casey