Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis – does it help?

Smithsonian Yoga ManuscriptOne of the things that surprised me when I first got involved with the multiple sclerosis community was the popularity of yoga as a form of exercise for people with MS.

Indeed one of the first multiple sclerosis blogs I wrote focused on yoga and multiple sclerosis.  My fascination with the subject has remained to this day.  And it is not just me. If you Google “yoga and multiple sclerosis” you will find loads of articles on the subject.

So why another one I hear you cry!

Well really this is an opportunity to give a “Cook’s Tour” of the subjects and at the same time give our readers the opportunity to share their experiences and suggestions for exercising if you have multiple sclerosis.

Firstly what actually is yoga?  Very simply it is a combination of physical and breathing exercises that  originated in ancient India.  Even today many practice yoga as part of the Hindu and other religions.  In non-Asian countries yoga is, however, used more for health purposes and it is this side of the equation we will be focusing upon.

Yoga being a low impact system of exercise through posture means that it has wide beneficial effects for health and for people with various medical conditions.

Outside the sphere of multiple sclerosis yoga is a great way of reducing blood pressure because of the gentle nature of the exercise.  It also has been credited with improvements in mental health and, indeed, the elimination of depression specifically.  Edward McAuley suggests in his article “The Acute Effects of Yoga on Executive Function” that it may have beneficial effects on cognitive functioning and thus brain fog.

With its emphasis on relaxation yoga is an excellent form of exercise for people with multiple sclerosis.  It also helps with fatigue as yoga helps improve sleep routine.

Perhaps most importantly for people with multiple sclerosis the stretching of muscles improves their strength and indirectly their balance.

Those of course are the benefits.  There are some interesting resources online and you may want to check out Garth McLean’s story about how he treats MS with yoga  Garth makes it clear that while yoga is not a cure it has helped with his RRMS symptoms.

For more hands on information check out Yoga U’s page on MS.  It has a few very useful videos for you to watch.

Finally we would love your feedback.

  • Have you ever done yoga?
  • Have you ever used it as part of MS therapy?  How successful was yoga in helping your symptoms?
  • Do you have any links to MS and yoga resources you can share?
  • Are there any other exercise regimes you would suggest for people with MS?


Please use our comments box below to share your thoughts about yoga and multiple sclerosis.

Many thanks in advance.