by Sarah Humphries
I first met Joy at work. She was transferred to work at the same location with me because she and I both were living with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S). and Joy was struggling to keep up. The thought was I could help her succeed as I understood more about M.S. and the everyday struggles.
On her second day at work with us, I went to her and shared with her that I too had M.S. and we became fast friends, almost immediately. I was her supervisor and we worked together to support each other, in every way.
Joy went out on disability and I missed her. I was not far behind her, finding myself on disability as well. The cognitive losses from M.S. were making it hard for me to keep up.
When I stopped working, I began to explore the idea of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher and going to various M.S. support groups to speak on the benefits of yoga and how the practice had helped me. I decided to get my certification over that summer and began to speak to small groups. Joy asked me to share with her what I had learned. I began visiting her at her home once a week and eventually these visits became yoga classes!
Joy’s M.S. was progressive and over time she began to use a wheelchair and I learned how to adapt poses so that Joy could continue the yoga practice she had come to enjoy and rely on. We even were able to incorporate some of her exercises from her physical therapy sessions.
Incidentally, my private sessions with Joy led me to venture out and begin teaching at other places, in addition to adding a couple of other private students. My talks about M.S. and yoga helped get my name out into the community and I loved sharing. Dana, the Co-Founder of Project Yoga Richmond, came to one of my chair classes at a nearby studio and she invited me to teach a class at Project Yoga Richmond. The rest is history!
I named my class at Project Yoga Richmond EnJOYoga after Joy because that is what she taught me. She taught me that everyone can enjoy yoga and benefit from what yoga offers no matter their ability. Joy’s memory lives on each time I teach this class.
We invite you to join Ambassador Sarah Humphries every Saturday at the studio for EnJOYoga from 10:30-11:30am. Whether you are a genuine beginner who needs a little extra guidance, an experienced yogi who wants to get back to the basics, or someone who wants to try practicing in a chair, then this class is for you. The focus is on making yoga available to anyone who wants to practice. We will use a variety of props to help you find your JOY in Yoga!