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bend over backwards for ms
Photography by jeremy gansner

bend over backwards for ms

by jeremy gansner
Live Healthy | Personal Story

108 days of yoga to fight multiple sclerosis
The spirituality and importance of the number 108 does not escape 33 year old Wife and Mother of Rachel Gansner. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006, Rachel needed something spiritual and important in her life. The answer was and is, Yoga. The practice has kept her spirit aligned and helped develop how important awareness of her body as a whole is to fighting her disease. Since her diagnoses, her life has gone down many paths, but practicing Yoga has been a constant. 

The number 108 symbolizes several aspects of spirituality and importance in Yoga. There are 108 beads in a mala, used for repetition of mantra for meditation and reflection. There are 108 points on the body to channel energy through the chakra system. To celebrate a solstice, birthday, or just an important date, Yoga practices will do 108 Sun Salutations. Both the Sun and the Moon have an average distance to the Earth of 108 times their diameter. Sanskrit has 54 letters, each with a masculine and feminine. Yoga is a Celestial practice, and Sanskrit is the original language of Yoga. 

The number 108 is also special in a simple mathematical factor. It is divisible by ten different numbers, not including one and itself. We can look at 108 as a number that fits into many categories, but what is special about the number is up to you. Rachel sees the number today as a community, meaning multiple numbers and factors fit perfectly into 108.   Rachel has always felt community is what keeps society, education, health, and civilization on a kind and fulfilling path.

Rachel is asking not just the Yoga community, but any community to come together and raise awareness for health, Yoga, and most importantly, Multiple Sclerosis. On November 20th, Rachel begins her journey of 108 straight days of Yoga to raise awareness and funds for MS.   The campaign, Bend Over Backwards for MS, is open and welcome to all.   From beginners to seasoned practiced participants, Bend Over Backwards for MS can be a motivator and guide to your Yoga health. The more Rachel has on her team, the larger the community working towards her humble goal of $10,800 dollars to the Illinois Chapter of the MS Society. 

Rachel will spend her life knowing that MS lives within her body.  While the physical struggle has fortunately not been as severe as other patients, the mental struggle hangs heartily on her spirit.  Focusing on her body, her mind can be at ease with Yoga.  Focusing on her campaign, she hopes to inspire others to spread her message. Yoga can work on keeping your spirit in a place that allows your life to flourish. A life she hopes will spread good health and joy.  MS will continue to disrupt Rachel’s and others' lives.  Funds and awareness are critical in the fight for this disease. Rachel cannot escape this disease, yet. Bend Over Backwards for MS can be a community for this message. A community of hope.

To join this community and support Rachel's campaign, please find her on facebook at or