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 http://yogarth.com/yoga-and-ms/.  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. http://yogauonline.com/yogatherapy/yoga-for-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.

16 comments
Bubbalux
Bubbalux

I have had RRMS for 14yrs. The last 2yrs I have been practicing Bikram Yoga, it helps that my wife owns the studio! This is HOT yoga, 40deg and 40% humidity. STOP I hear you say, heat and Ms are not a good combo!!! Well, I am 1 of the few that find the opposite, cold seems to affect me more. I love the yoga, whilst I feel tired after the class, I also have a tremendous feeling of achievement and my muscles feel great. It can only be doing me good, keeping my strength and stamina up for the times when I will need it in the future. My neurologist was shocked at 1st due to the heat etc, however now she can see the benefits and is 100% behind my practice. This type of yoga is obviously not for everyone but you should give it a go and see how you get on with it, what I love in the 90min class is that its not a competion and you can sit out or lie down when needed, its your practice, if you just lie and sleep for the 90min, then thats your practice for that day, every day is different. As long as you dont snore and disrupt everyone else...LOL.

cassandrahopemartin
cassandrahopemartin

I just started doing Restorative Yoga two weeks ago. I love it. I get so much relief in my back pain.I bought two blocks to do the back stretches at home. Love doing it.

DanielleWalker1
DanielleWalker1

I took up yoga long before my MS diagnosis (in 2001) and although I no longer have the stamina I used to, I believe it has helped keep me flexible, balanced and calm in the face of the many challenges MS brings. My Mum worries about me a lot and asked recently, “Is there anything that can help you? What can I do?” and my answer was, “Yoga, Mum. Yoga helps me. It’s the only thing that gives rather than takes my power.” My practice has changed over the years - I used to be able to fly through ashtanga classes but nowadays I prefer kundalini yoga. My favourite kundalini DVD is "Yoga to Detox and De-stress" by Maya Fiennes. It's a mainly floor based practice that incorporates mantra chanting with active postures. I feel wonderful when I've finished and really feel the difference if I don't practice for a few days. Namaste x

YSD
YSD

I confidently says that Yoga(Combination of Asans+Pranayama+Faith in Almighty help) has been very beneficial to me since MS was experienced by me when i was 19 years and i have sailed till 50 years.It is most effective medicine till date.

2catmom
2catmom

YSD

I am very happy for you. I agree that your lifestyle choices are the cause of the many amazing health benefits you continue to

experience. Congratulations on your bravery and intelligence.

The current medical industry commonly explains how taking drugs will prevent possible, unknown health worsening. It's that behavior which force some patients to research, and discover how less risky, natural options exist for consideration. MDs cannot accept how the same lack of knowledge accepted in drug use, must also apply for the natural treatment options. The majority of MDs choose to ignore, and/or discredit the simple chemical-free health options.

Best wishes for you best health!

York4eva
York4eva

I do a combination of yoga, Pilates flex ability and abdominal strengthening exercises to keep my muscles active. If I happen to miss a couple of days of exercise, I can feel how much mobility I have lost. I use Rodney Yee's A.M Yoga and 10 Minute Solutions Pilates.

Ozziesmom32
Ozziesmom32

I think I'm gonna try this. I've heard many good things about it!! Worth a shot :)

RosiLaraLara
RosiLaraLara

QUIZA SI,,,PERO PORLO MENOS DIGANME COMO PUEDO HACER X POSTURAS SI NO DURO DE PIE Y SENTADA,,,,,????HAY Q MEDIR REALIDADES Y BUENAS VOLUNTADES,,OK


SallyAnnFreeman
SallyAnnFreeman

Everyone always talks about how great yoga is for MS but I have no idea how to find a yoga class for people with MS. When I call yoga studios they tell me there are classes specifically designed for people with MS but no one can tell me where to go for one in the Tampa area.

2catmom
2catmom

I talked to a girl who does classes last year. I found her on Facebook; Cindy?. Some classes are for disabled and MS.  She had one class a week in Dunedin, and worked in other towns/cities, as well.  I can't remember if in Tampa, but I think she was all over. I'll look for more info and pass what I can on to you. 

bmunkres
bmunkres

The great fact is that yoga can help save your life... Even if you don't have MS.

I was diagnosed in March of 2008 and started my yoga practice in November of that same year. I do a 20 minute regimen daily, it has been over four years. I started out at 322 lbs, with a change in diet to non processed food, I am at 195 lbs today. I am more flexible than I ever have been, and look better than ever.

I was treated for CCSVI in November of 2010, it went very well I believe because I started with yoga as well as diet change.

One other yogic point I would make is that all should know about Eric Small's work with yoga in MS. He has had MS for 50 years, and has kept himself healthy because of it.www.yogams.com

Be well, Ben Munkres