Student Series with Jerrie Gullick

Jerrie Guillick has been a private student of Michelle Dortignac’s since 2006, a couple of years ago she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  Michelle describes her part in Jerrie’s experience with Unnata Aerial Yoga and MS.

When Jerrie first started taking classes with me, she did not have MS.  She was diagnosed with it around 2 or 3 years ago.  MS has many different symptoms and severity levels, each person can exhibit different aspects.  For Jerrie, it has been a slow and steady decline of control, sensation and energy since she was diagnosed.  We only started using the Yoga hammock once she was diagnosed with MS.  Classes are always a mix of using the hammock, using the floor, and using the wall as a prop/assistant.  Our goal for classes has never changed, despite her changing physical abilities – to become more aware and therefore to develop more control of our beings, both physical and mental/emotional.  This is at the heart of every Yoga practice.

Admittedly, even 7 years later, our sessions are filled with laughter and having fun, despite the fact that some days are very difficult for Jerrie on both an emotional and a physical level.  I do feel its part of my job to help Jerrie find humor in her life.
–Michelle Dortignac

For Jerrie, her yoga practice with Michelle has been a crucial part of her life, physically and emotionally, before but especially during her struggle with MS.

Ok, I dislike talking or writing about myself, but when Michelle asked me to write something for her blog, there was no way I could say no. I’ve been a private student of Michelle’s for something like six years. During that time she has taught me so much, both in and out of the yogic practice. But I’m especially happy with the way she has incorporated aerial yoga into our practice.

A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. The diagnosis was confirmation of the fact that my body had started to deteriorate rapidly over a period of a few months. I went from being able to walk six to eight miles a day to having trouble walking two blocks – I don’t have the energy and my gait is reminiscent of a toddler. I now have to use a cane and getting up and down stairs is a struggle. I don’t have the strength or balance that I used to which makes yoga practice an interesting challenge.

By using the techniques that she has developed, Michelle has helped me to keep moving. She uses aerial yoga methods to help me stay steady while practicing warrior poses, get me upside down (hip hang is one of my FAVORITE poses) and keep in touch with my body. I tell anyone that will listen that if it wasn’t for yoga I would be wheelchair bound. More importantly though, Michelle has helped me to accept what is and to focus on what I can do today. When I sink back into feeling sorry for myself, it is yoga that helps me let go of what used to be and stop comparing. Sometimes I think I started practicing yoga before the MS just so that I would be ready for it when it arrived.
–Jerrie Gullick

3 comments on “Student Series with Jerrie Gullick

  1. Jerrie has always been such an example to me as a big sister and as a human being. She has always been tough even if she was only bluffing her way through a situation (I only recently found this out :) ). I just had always assumed she was born tough as nails and I was a wimp. When we were little she would take my hand and lead me through a situation to safety even though she might have been shaking in her boots. MS has probably been one of the scariest things she has ever had to face but she is still proving tough even if she has to fake it some days. This article really touched my heart and made me so proud of my big sister. I am really grateful she has such a great support system and exercise to help keep her doing the best she possibly can. I am glad Michelle uses humor because Jerrie has a wonderfully contagious laugh that needs to be heard. It is so nice to see people using their skills to help people not just physically, but emotionally as well. Thanks Michelle.

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