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MS Article or Multiple Sclerosis:

Yoga MS:

 How can doing Yoga

Help those of us

 with Multiple Sclerosis?


Yoga MS: can doing Yoga help, those of us that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?

Physical activity and MS exercise is extremely important for individuals with MS, and yoga is now recognized as an excellent means of reducing the
symptoms of MS and helping with management of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, whether the individual manifests little or no outward signs of the disease, or whether they spend most of their time in a wheelchair.

Yoga, a holistic fitness exercise program, that has been used with good success with many cases of MS, has helped those with MS by producing  greater physical flexibility, reducing the amount of ms fatigue, bringing ms pain relief, reducing ms stress and bringing a sense of regaining control of their life again.

Yoga is gaining popularity as a complementary health approach, where the students’ physicians are recognizing yoga as an appropriate and safe treatment with potentially profound results.

The benefits of yoga for ms are obtained by doing yoga postures, doing stretching or flexibility exercises, working with the breath, and meditation that may also include increased body awareness, release of muscular tension, (that can help with relieving spasticity), increased coordination and balance, increased flexibility and strength, control over fatigue, increased tolerance to heat, improved circulation and breathing, improved organ function (including bowel and bladder control), enhanced alertness, better management of stress and an overall feeling of well-being.

There are yoga instructors that work primarily with MS patients at many different levels of functionality, including those that can stand and walk some of those that are more confined to a wheelchair, that require more specialized help for the management of MS and with helping to reduce the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. 

The course of MS is unpredictable. The four categories used to classify the clinical course in persons with MS are:

* Relapsing and Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

* Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

* Progressive and Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

There are many forms of yoga that can be practiced that can be used for those that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, that can help in many ways to ease the symptoms of MS.

Yoga MS: how can doing yoga help with each of the 4 types of Multiple Sclerosis?

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Yoga can help with reducing symptoms of MS that include spasticity, reducing numbness and  tingling, balance issues and intolerance to heat, just to name a few of the Multiple Sclerosis symptoms connected with the Relapsing and Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, one of the types of Multiple Sclerosis.

If yoga exercises are done more slowly, mindfully and with complete awareness, this reduces the fatigue that can often result from doing exercises, when you already have MS fatigue that you can be battling with, even before you start to do the exercises.  It might be easier to join a yoga class, where the instructor has worked with MS patients before and works well with choosing exercises that help reduce the symptoms of MS, instead of causing more flare ups and exacerbations.

Meditative practices and guided imagery can also be part of the practices that are included as part of yoga that help those of us with MS much more in allowing our bodies to relax distress and allow our bodies to start to repair and heal on a cellular level.  Yoga can also help to reduce the stress that is often a problem for those of us that have been given the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

If done over time, the flare ups can also be reduced in severity and frequency and it can also help there to be more balance in our lives that definitely helps to reduce the Multiple Sclerosis symptoms in how often they appear.

Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

In some cases of Secondary Progressive MS, the case may be advanced enough that a person's symptoms may include near-blindness, severe vertigo when reclining, slurred speech, and muscle weakness. If the person with this form of MS is still able to transfer into a folding chair or other type of chair other than being in a wheelchair while performing the yoga exercises this would make it easier to do the yoga poses and positioning.  Two chairs can be used to simulate doing the poses on the floor.

The exercises and poses can be modified, but often when the person is confined to a wheelchair for extended periods of time, it is better to do forward bends, seated back bends, hip openers, twists and modified standing postures, such as forward bends, and even a variation of the warrior pose can help with increasing flexibility, strengthening trunk muscles, reducing spasticity, increasing balance, relaxing the nervous system, reducing stress and restoring balance to the overall body.  It is a good idea to also include strong breath awareness to get the diaphragm working again and to get some life-force stirring inside the body.

Doing  these poses and  exercises  can also help  to help those that have been in a wheelchair for several years to regain muscle strength and flexibility lost to years of being in a wheelchair, and help the person to stand for brief periods. Even if the person is unable to keep up with any kind of physical activity in the past, it has been found that if the person continues to faithfully practice these poses and exercises, every day, and add more as they can function better, this will help to maintain and increase how well the person can function, more so than they could before they started doing yoga.

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Progressive MS or Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis can also be helped by doing certain forms
of yoga. Even if more severe physical limitations are present, such as limited range of movement of much of your body, as is sometimes be the case with some people that are diagnosed with Progressive
and Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis, some hands-on manipulation can be done, where appropriate, of the arms, hands, and legs, but it may be that the main way that yoga can be more useful for these people, that have the more severe cases of Progressive MS, with more mindful breathing, dynamic movement of the parts of the body that do have movement linked to breath, and guided imagery meditation to
promote mindfulness and relaxation.


Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

Progressive MS or Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis can also be helped by doing certain forms
of yoga. Even if more severe physical limitations are present, such as limited range of movement of much of your body, as is sometimes be the case with some people that are diagnosed with Progressive
and Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis, some hands-on manipulation can be done, where appropriate, of the arms, hands, and legs, but it may be that the main way that yoga can be more useful for these people, that have the more severe cases of Progressive MS, with more mindful breathing, dynamic movement of the parts of the body that do have movement linked to breath, and guided imagery meditation to
promote mindfulness and relaxation.

It may be that the obvious physical limitations can make it too difficult for the person assisting with performing the yoga poses and movements may not be able to do even a modified physical yoga practice to a great degree, because of the physical limitations. However, yoga does not stop at the physical level. It permeates into the other aspects of our being, such as the energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects.  The work with these patients can help to improve the quality of the patient’s life on all these levels, even though what can be done with the yoga practitioner may not appear to the outside observer as being what is typically thought of as “yoga”.

If you are searching for a yoga teacher, be sure to look for one who has more experience working with students with MS, and that are willing to consider any other special concerns that you may have that is a result of your particular case of MS.  Search for a teacher or instructor that does limit themselves or their students to the physical alone. Ask if they also use breath work, mindfulness based meditation, guided imagery, and if they are willing to experiment gently to find the appropriate practice for their students, keeping in mind the students' needs and desires.

Yoga can be performed on your own using either charts or other written instructions and diagrams for describing and picturing how to do the yoga poses or a DVD of someone performing the Yoga poses can be used that can allow you to follow along and do the yoga poses and exercises with the instructor.

Which ever way that you choose for you to be able to develop a consistent routine of doing yoga MS exercises can help to reduce MS symptoms and help your body to function better by increasing balance, flexibility, reducing muscle stiffness, reducing spasms of legs, arms, hands or feet, reduce the effects of stress on the symptoms of MS, along with many other benefits to you that can help you to function better by reducing your MS symptoms. 

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