Posted by: Thixia | June 21, 2008

Yoga: Mind over MS 1 of 2

Did you know there’s a popular form of exercise that can help you maintain your flexibility, increase your strength, and relax? It’s called yoga, and it’s a great choice for people with MS.




Why yoga for people with MS?


You’ve probably heard health experts and celebrities alike extol the virtues of yoga, but did you know it’s a good form of exercise for people with MS too?

Living with MS often means living with fatigue, muscle weakness, and lack of coordination. But exercise can combat these things, as well as reduce stress and depression.

Yoga is a type of exercise that combines movement into specific “postures” or positions with deep abdominal breathing. There are numerous types of yoga, which may involve holding postures for a period of time or using fluid movements to transition from posture to posture. The level of difficulty varies depending on which type of yoga you try, but a trained yoga instructor can help you find one that best suits your abilities. You may, however, want to skip the “hot” yoga or Bikram yoga, which is done in a very warm studio, as extreme heat can cause muscle weakness and the worsening of some MS symptoms.

While everyone who does yoga stands to benefit from its ability to increase flexibility and promote strength and relaxation, these gains are particularly important if you have MS. As well, the deep, rhythmic breathing that is a hallmark of yoga is beneficial if you have MS because it aids circulation and respiratory function – something you may not be able to achieve through more vigorous exercise if you have limited movement or mobility.

Aside from all these benefits, yoga is a good choice because it’s relaxing and non-competitive, but still challenging. While your ability to hold poses or to manage more challenging postures should improve with practice, benefits can be seen from holding positions for as short a duration as five seconds. Even if you have limited movement and mobility, you can do yoga using props such as a folded towel, cushion or chair. And if you can’t make it to a class, you can do yoga at home.



Stress is a necessary, normal part of life. But living with the daily realities of a chronic condition can elevate your stress levels as you deal with the challenges of everyday living and making decisions about managing your MS.

Stress can be experienced both mentally and physically. Mentally, you may feel anxious, irritable, or overwhelmed, while physically, stress might make itself known in the form of clammy hands or sweating, constipation or diarrhea, stomach aches, headaches, heart palpitations, changes in sleep patterns, and other effects.

When you feel stressed, your body releases a flurry of stress hormones, which in the short term increase your heart rate and blood pressure and cause other bodily changes. In the long term, chronic stress can also increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, immune system problems, and other conditions.

If you have MS, stress can take an even bigger toll. While scientific data is inconclusive, many MS sufferers report experiencing more symptoms and more severe symptoms during stressful times. Though it isn’t clear whether experiencing MS symptoms leads to the stress or whether the stress triggers more symptoms, many say managing stress can help to reduce symptoms.

But here’s the good news. While stress is normal, it isn’t inevitable. There are a number of practices that can reduce the level of stress you feel in your day-to-day life, from exercise and yoga to breathing and relaxation techniques. Seeking support – whether from loved ones, from other people who suffer from MS, or from a trained healthcare professional – can also help to reduce the stress you feel as a result of your condition.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: