Multiple Sclerosis and Yoga: How It Can Help
The month of September celebrates yoga — an ancient practice combining physical, mental and spiritual strength — which many people find challenging, yet incredibly rewarding for their mind and body. It’s no surprise that yoga is known to be a beneficial practice in people’s lives, but it’s also one of the most commonly recommended exercises for those living with multiple sclerosis.
When dealing with the difficult symptoms of MS, exercise is likely the last thing anyone wants to do, but studies have shown staying active can actually improve symptoms. According to Diana Duda, a physical therapist at Penn State, when you have MS and you regularly exercise, it can improve your fitness, endurance, and strength in your arms and legs. Studies have also shown that this can also give you better control over your bowel and bladder function and decrease overall fatigue.
Yoga combines gentle stretches, a positive attitude, and a deeper connection to your breath to bring awareness to your body and build strength – additionally providing the foundation for dealing with relapsing-remitting clusters of symptoms that can last for weeks. It encourages flexibility and builds upon similar poses to add muscle and help loosen up tight muscles and joints. NOTE: With any exercise, always consult your doctor in advance to discuss any concerns you may have.
Yoga Poses that Help with MS Symptoms
Yoga is incredibly adaptive and can be tailored to any physical level. One of the most beneficial aspects of the yoga practice for those living with MS is it can be done from a chair or standing. We love this video by the National MS Society introducing a practice all from a seated position.
Stand or sit comfortably in a chair or wheelchair. Raise your arms overhead with fingers pointed, extending through the spine and making an effort to keep your shoulders away from your ears. Inhale and exhale here for several breaths.
Cat and Cow Pose
Use this pose to create space in your spine. You can start on your hands and knees on a yoga mat, or do this pose in a chair. Exhale, and curve your spine upwards towards the sky. On your next inhale, slowly reverse the curve by pulling the shoulder blades together and pushing the tailbone up. Repeat slowly.
Release tension through the spine, shoulders, and hips with this restorative pose. Place your knees on the floor, then slide your body downwards so your forehead touches the mat. You can modify this by spreading your thighs wider, or using a blanket or bolster to support the weight of your head.
Next Level Yoga Tips
After practicing a few poses on your own, you might find that you’re up for a bigger challenge. YouTube and other online communities offer great resources, including free online yoga classes, where you can find anything from challenging cardio yoga to restorative stretching practices.
Some of our favorites include:
Managing Multiple Sclerosis at IVX Health
If biologics like Rituxan, Tysabri, or Ocrevus are a part of your chronic illness treatment plan, then consider choosing IVX Health for your ongoing care needs. IVX Health makes it possible to receive your therapy in a comfortable, convenient, and private environment.
With a private suite for every patient, you can watch your favorite Netflix show or movie on the big screen TV in each room, use a laptop or other mobile device to surf the web, or simply hang out with family and friends. We always have chairs for guests, and each center has a family room that is spacious and private if you need to bring your kids to your treatment. We also offer flexible appointment scheduling – including evenings and Saturdays – at any of our convenient locations.
At IVX Health, we truly are invested in helping you live your best life. If you’re ready to experience a new kind of infusion clinic, click here to learn how to move your infusion or injection therapy to IVX Health.