Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis Stories and Tips

I know that when I have ever been faithful to my yoga practice for more than a couple of weeks that the benefits have been noticeable, maybe even amazing. I breathe better, I stand straighter, I sleep deeper, I feel calmer. I also become much more selective about things that go into my body (like food) and into my brain (like stupid television shows). I just feel better overall.

I asked people with multiple sclerosis about their yoga practice – how it helped them and how they thought it affected their MS symptoms.

I also asked for tips on sticking with it. They sent in the following ideas to put us on the path to finding our inner yogi and inner peace:

  • I do yoga every day. It certainly helps physically, but I think pranayama (yoga breathing) can do miracles in brain and help to fight against demyelination. I feel great after pranayama, especially after brahmary.
  • We do an MS Pilates class twice a week and our instructor incorporates some yoga positions within the Pilates class. I have noticed my balance is so much better now. In fact, I was shopping at a second hand store and was in front of some very breakable items-lots of glass, vases, cups- when I suddenly became totally off balance and I thought I was going to crash into the glass items. However, I did not! I was able to gather my wits and my balance and I remained standing. I was so happy because the fall could have been very dangerous. I will continue with my classes forever. My yoga /Pilates might have saved my life that day. I know my dignity was spared.
  • I had to leave work 2 years ago. I am 57 and just diagnosed after living a VERY active energetic life. It came on fast and hard. I have been home since, with not much to do and got unbearably depressed. It’s not safe for me to go out alone, but I saw a yoga studio 1 mile away and though "why not?" That was 3 months ago. I go twice a week. My body is changing shape, I have somewhere to go and feel like a new person physically and mentally. I do get some spasms, but so what? I am tired, but so what? I am NOT depressed anymore, my body is looking better. I have some place to be. It has helped some with balance and I don't feel bad in between for resting. I recommend it to everyone. It has been a lifesaver, a life changer for me. It's so doable and feels great to stretch. If you get a spasm, slow down… I can't tell you how much this means to me that "I" have a purpose, a place to be, and the knowing it's so healthy. Yes, there is depression sometimes, but rarely now. I accept my limitations now. GO TO YOGA!
  • It definitely has helped with my balance and fatigue. I do Wii fit yoga, but it still seems to work. I do have little symptoms, however, so I can't say how much it will help with those who have pretty severe symptoms. Why not try, though?
  • I attend an adaptive yoga class. Our teacher is wonderful, tailoring yoga for all levels of ability. Sometimes after work I can barely move, but I go to yoga class anyway and a miracle happens. Yoga is calming and restorative and can do wonders for spastic, weak muscles.
  • I was diagnosed in December when my legs went numb. I forced myself to continue yoga even though I found it difficult to balance and hold certain poses. My legs are back to normal (almost!) and I continue to do yoga 3-4 times/week. I'm not sure if it’s helping my physical symptoms but I am 100% sure that it's helping me mentally deal with my diagnosis. Yoga is amazing...
  • I have been practicing yoga for the past 10+ years. I do other kinds of exercising, like Pilates, cardio (walking, biking, etc.), weights. I do yoga 1-2 days of the week, and then a variety of the other things on the other days. When I do the other workouts, I always start with the sun salutations (yoga) to warm up. It gets my body moving and breathing! On some days, if my legs have bothered me and I've had a stressful day, I do a little bit before bed. It's great to end your day with as well. During weeks that I am not feeling quite up to par, I only do yoga. I can't sing its praises enough!! Anyone thinking about trying it should definitely give it a chance. There are all levels, so you can start where you feel comfortable. It's good for the body and the soul.
  • I also have had trouble sticking with yoga, but I can tell you that when I go to yoga class and do my tapes that I feel a lot better. I think part of it is that I stop eating fast food and start eating more fruits and vegetables. I just do everything more mindfully I guess – my teacher really emphasizes that. I am going to start yoga again after thinking about how good it is for me and writing this!

Bottom Line: We all know that yoga has many benefits, but hearing directly from people with MS about the positive effects on their lives is truly inspirational. I am especially interested in the emotional and mental benefits of yoga. I am definitely going to give yoga a try (again)...

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