My Life With ALS Is About Learning How to Balance Effort and Ease

A former yoga instructor becomes the student

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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During the years I taught yoga, I always enjoyed explaining the concept of effort and ease. It’s the feeling of holding a yoga pose with the right amount of force. Not too much, not too little — just right.

Little did I know how, years later, an expanded version of effort and ease would be a dominant factor in my life with ALS. Every. Single. Day.

How?

I’m sure many ALS patients can relate when I say that before my diagnosis, I took it for granted that I’d always be able to move with ease. But once my ALS symptoms emerged and progressed, I was shocked at the amount of effort needed just to do simple things. Suddenly, my shoes felt heavy, getting dressed became difficult, and my hands cramped while holding a toothbrush.

Frustrated, I’d just try harder. Which was both unproductive and exhausting.

Likewise, my mind was in turmoil. I kept replaying the moment the doctor told me I had ALS, sending me into thought loops imagining worst-case scenarios. Mornings? I’d duck back under the covers. It was easier to take the path of least resistance and spend the day sitting and doing nothing.

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I was the student now

That’s when my yoga training kicked in. I pondered how I could apply the concept of effort and ease to my new normal, living with ALS.

As I recently wrote, developing a personal plan to prepare for possible symptom changes helped ease my worries. I felt empowered addressing the question, “What can I do right now?” I followed the adage, “Work smarter, not harder,” and began using a lightweight rechargeable toothbrush. My closet now held only clothes I could easily manage. The complicated and challenging ones were all donated.

Instead of pushing my body through a lengthy workout, I broke the exercise segments up into short bouts that I could easily fit in throughout the day.

And I began practicing “showing up” — not only would I get dressed up for the day, even if it would be spent at home, but I also showed up mentally.

I created things to do, contacted friends to see, and researched places to go. All of this gave me a sense of purpose, and better yet, the time spent doing those things was time I didn’t spend thinking about my ALS.

I was finding the balance of just enough effort and just enough ease to help me navigate the challenges of living with ALS. I believe this is something we all can do — and you can do it, too.

Together we can learn to live well while living with ALS.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.

Comments

Rick avatar

Rick

Great post! Thank you for sharing!!!

Reply
Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you Rick for your positive comment :-)

Roxanne Kusske avatar

Roxanne Kusske

I so admire your attitude towards living with ALS. I loved my husband so much, but he definitely took the path of least resistance, and succumbed to the disease a lot earlier than he needed to. Diagnosed in August of 2019, died in November of 2021. He just couldn't imagine living life with that disease and didn't want to.

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Bob Miller avatar

Bob Miller

It so true. I just returned from having lunch with 6 of my friends. I’ve told my friends that the best medicine for me is having face to face contact. Hospitality is the best medicine. Every time someone reaches out to me I thank them for thinking of me.

I have no idea what the progression will be. Every day something new hurts but I keep on moving. I have my wife’s yoga instructor come over twice a week to keep me moving. I have physical therapy once every two weeks and I go to ALS clinic every three months.

The best idea I’ve had is that I tell my friends that cocktail hour st my home is 5 pm. I don’t drink but they all like my liquor. Whatever it takes to stay engaged.

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Peter Tam avatar

Peter Tam

Ms. Munn you are a hero. Keep up the positive spirit.

Reply
Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you Peter. Best wishes to you :-)

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