Erica Gilbert has gotten so much out of her yoga practice that she wants others to know about it, so she has begun teaching yoga classes. Gilbert was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2010. “Last August, I got so tired of how crappy I felt in my own body,” she said. “I thought I had to do something, so I started yoga.” Gilbert started at Yoga Source in St. Louis.
Erica Gilbert has gotten so much out of her yoga practice that she wants others to know about it, so she has begun teaching yoga classes.
Gilbert was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2010. “Last August, I got so tired of how crappy I felt in my own body,” she said. “I thought I had to do something, so I started yoga.”
Gilbert started at Yoga Source in St. Louis. She said that she started experiencing the benefits soon after. “I felt stronger in my body than I ever had,” she said.
Gilbert said she did not consider herself an athletic person before. “As a kid, I loved gymnastics, but I wasn’t a huge gymnast. I took some classes. I didn’t do any sports in high school. I tried a few things here and there over the years, but nothing ever stuck,” she said. “I started yoga for the physical side, but the mental side has become so important to me,” she said.
She said that yoga has helped decrease her stress. “Stress is the number one cause of relapses,” she said. “I end each class with a meditation lying down,” Gilbert said she still experiences fatigue, but overall, she feels better. “I have to manage how much I do,” she said.
Soon after starting yoga, Gilbert started training to become an instructor. She finished her training in September.
|Erica Gilbert at 222 Artisan Bakery, where she is offering monthly yoga classes.|
“Midway through the training, I rethought teaching,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that teaching would not impact my own practice. I’m very committed to my home personal practice.” Gilbert practices for 75 to 90 minutes a day. “I can get all the tightness out,” she said. “It’s part of my self-care to keep me where I am today.”Ultimately, Gilbert decided that she wanted to share what she had learned with others. “My St. Louis instructor offered me the chance to teach a weekly class for students with MS,” she said. “I wanted to broaden it to be more inclusive.” She opened the class to include anyone with neurological or movement issues, and eventually anyone at all. “It’s open to anyone who wants to slow down and be gentle.”
“I have empathy for these students,” she said. “It’s coming from a very personal place. I might not have the same challenges you have, but I know what it’s like to be stuck in bed. I try to think back to my worst time and ask what I would have wanted then.”
Gilbert is still teaching her weekly class in St. Louis, but recently, she has begun offering once-a-month classes in Edwardsville. She recently held her third class at 222 Artisan Bakery. She holds the classes in the evenings after the bakery closes.
“Kim Yount Goodner, the owner of 222, is a good friend. I had talked to her during the whole process and she’s been a huge supporter,” Gilbert said. When Gilbert told her that she would like to do some classes in Edwardsville, Yount Goodner suggested the bakery.Gilbert said the classes have proven popular with a variety of people. “Only two people in this last class had any special issues,” she said. “We move a lot slower and more mindfully than some classes. We utilize rolling with balls. That eases the pain in tight spots in the body.”
Gilbert said she wants to keep a welcoming, inclusive environment. “For people with MS, for instance, it can be really intimidating to take regular yoga classes. I know what it’s like to be worn out one day or have balance issues,” she said. “I keep a very non-intimidating environment. I stress honoring and listening to your body. We do a lot of breathing work to calm the nervous system. It’s just a gentler class.”
She also likes to send her students home with exercises that they can do at home, she said. Her evening classes always end with meditation. “There’s no reason to get all hyped up at this hour of the night,” she said.
Gilbert plans to keep learning more herself as she teaches others. “I would like to be a registered accessible yoga teacher next year,” she said. “The more I know, the more I can teach other people.”
She is also planning a more advanced class, called Rebel Flow, to be held at The Foundry. “This one will be in the morning before they open,” she said. The first class will be Jan. 15 from 8:30 to 9:30. “I’m calling it yoga and mimosas,” she said. The Foundry will be serving mimosas after class. “It’s a great way to use these spaces when the businesses don’t need them,” Gilbert said.
Her next beginner class at 222 Artisan Bakery will be on Jan. 12 from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information about the classes, or to registers, see Gilbert’s website at www.yogaforneurohealth.com.