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Yoga and MS

By Matt Cavallo

When I was asked to participate in My MS Yoga with Baron Baptiste and Dr. Elliot Frohman, my first thought was “How does yoga help people with MS?” My second thought was “Oh no, people are going to see me in Capri pants!” Despite my Capri pant reservations, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more, so I agreed to participate. What I learned during that filming session completely changed my views on yoga and MS.
I did not have a background in yoga, so I needed to learn more about it. Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice dating back more than 5,000 years in Northern India with a focus on body postures, breath control, and meditation. Yoga is practiced today all over the world because of its health, stress-reduction, and relaxation benefits. Yoga is also low-impact, which allows you to go at your own pace and offers modified postures for those who may have physical limitations.
Yoga, like any exercise routine, is a discipline that requires active participation to see meaningful results. There are several research studies, however, that have cited the benefits of yoga to people living with MS.
recent Rutgers University study found that after eight weeks of practicing yoga, 14 women between the age of 34 to 64 with moderate MS symptoms saw improvements in balance, coordination, walking, and the ability to stand up from sitting. The study also noted improvements in mental health, concentration, bladder control, and vision. Decreased pain and fatigue were also noted.

5 Benefits of Yoga for People Living With MS

  1. Improves mobility and ability to stand from sitting
  2. Increases strength and muscle memory
  3. Improves coordination
  4. Improves balance
  5. May help with quality of life measures including: mental health, concentration, bladder control, vision, pain, and fatigue
Another benefit to practicing yoga is that you can do it in the comfort of your own home. While it is recommended that you consult your neurologist and physician prior to starting a routine, once you start it there are resources that you can use to practice yoga comfortably in your own home or join a yoga studio. If you join a yoga studio, make sure you tell your instructor about any limitations that you may have. If you want to practice yoga from home, MSFocus: the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation has a free DVD resource that can help.

About the My MS Yoga DVD

The My MS Yoga DVD was created for people living with MS and features three different full-length yoga practices that people can do at home. Led by world renowned yoga expert, Baron Baptiste, the videos encourage MS patients to do the best they can do that day and how to adapt each pose based on ability. The three practices are as follows:
  • My MS Yoga Foundations offers simplified yoga poses for people new to yoga or for days when you need to work at a slower pace.
  • My MS Yoga Transformations is a more advanced program for when you have mastered foundations or for days when you are feeling your best.
  • My MS Yoga Restorations helps master mediation and breathing to reduce stress and muscle tension, plus it helps you relax.
To check out the "My MS Yoga" DVD from the Lending Libraty, visit msfocus.org/Get-Educated/Library/My-MS-Yoga-with-Baron-Baptiste.