Adaptive Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis
Some people with multiple sclerosis decide to avoid yoga because they believe they won’t be able to do the poses or may feel embarrassed if they can’t keep up with others in the class. However, fortunately there is adaptive yoga for multiple sclerosis, which can make this beneficial form of exercise available to just about anyone.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society explains that yoga can help individuals who have multiple sclerosis “as long as they find the appropriate class, teacher or video.” In recent years, a growing number of yoga instructors are being trained to provide adaptive yoga for people with multiple sclerosis as well as other health challenges, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and more.
Practicing yoga has been shown to improve pain, balance, posture, and quality of life for individuals who have multiple sclerosis. One study even demonstrated how yogic techniques (i.e., breathing, relaxation, strengthening, and loosening poses) improved symptoms of poor bladder control.
Adaptive yoga for multiple sclerosis typically involves performing yogic moves and poses from a safe position, such as sitting on a chair, on a mat, or staying in your wheelchair. It also can involve the use of belts, blankets, blocks, straps, and assistants that provide you with extra guidance and support.
The first video below illustrates chair yoga for the hips and legs that can be done by people with MS who find it a challenge to do standing poses. These poses also could be adapted to be done from a wheelchair.
This video is just one example of the ways you can enjoy adaptive yoga if you have multiple sclerosis. The second video shows you some simple yogic techniques from a seated position on a mat to help fight fatigue associated with MS.
Whether you try these videos or others that are available on the internet or attend yoga classes, it’s important to always check with your healthcare provider before starting any yoga practice, and to come out of a pose if it causes you pain.
Ready to do yoga?
When looking for a yoga class, consider these tips:
- Scout around for an instructor with experience teaching individuals with multiple sclerosis. You can information about classes and referrals from MS Navigator® or at 1-800-344-4867.
- Ask about how much experience an instructor has working with people with multiple sclerosis and/or his or her physical therapy or medical background
- Before joining any class, tell the instructor about your condition. If there’s the possibility you could have a substitute instructor at some point, that individual needs to be told as well.
- If you choose to do yoga at home with a video or from the internet, never practice alone.
- If your area does not have yoga classes specifically for people with multiple sclerosis, classes for seniors or people with special needs may be appropriate. However, talk to the instructor before starting class.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Patil NJ et al. Effect of integrated yoga on neurogenic bladder dysfunction in patients with multiple sclerosis. A prospective observational case series. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2012 Dec; 20(6): 424-30