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, 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 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.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Yoga-Mind-over-MS

Stress and MS – and yoga

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 make 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.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Yoga-Mind-over-MS

MS and yoga: getting started

Just because it looks tricky doesn't mean you should be scared to give yoga a try. But before you don a pair of leggings and get ready to bend and twist, it's important to do your research. There is a wide variety of types of yoga, some more vigorous and challenging than others. Before you try one, it's important to check with your doctor and discuss with an experienced yoga instructor which form will best suit your needs and abilities.

Once you have decided on a type of yoga, it's time to find a class that suits your needs. If you have few mobility restrictions, a regular class may be appropriate. A good instructor should take your condition into account and can recommend modifications for any postures that may be too difficult. If you use a cane or walker, a chair yoga class or a class aimed at seniors may be a good match.

Dress for class wearing light, loose clothing that won't restrict your movement. Because some people experience a worsening of MS symptoms in the heat, it's important to wear clothes that allow you to stay cool and to make sure you practice yoga in a studio that is kept at a comfortable temperature. Some types of yoga are performed under extremely hot conditions, which may not be appropriate for people with MS.

When you start, make sure to take it at your own pace. If you've never done yoga before, try a beginner class, move slowly, and don't force movements if your body doesn't want to cooperate. While it's important to challenge yourself, it's also important that you not push yourself too hard. Yoga isn't a case of "no pain, no gain," so if a position hurts, ease up. With practice, you will become stronger and more flexible.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Yoga-Mind-over-MS

Relax already!

If yoga doesn't appeal to you, relax! From deep breathing to meditation, there are a number of other techniques that can help you to beat stress. Here are some examples:

  • Clearing your mind: Ridding all the thoughts from your mind isn't as easy as it sounds, but it's a great way to take a mental break from stress. Set aside 10 distraction-free minutes and find a comfortable seat in a quiet room. Close your eyes and try to visualize a calming scene or focus on a calming phrase. If your mind starts to wander, bring your thoughts back to that scene or phrase.
  • Deep breathing: Deep breathing can relieve tension and help you to relax, and – what's best – it can be done anywhere and at any time. Start with a hand on your belly, which will allow you to feel each breath. Inhale slowly through your nose, pushing the air towards your stomach to expand all the way to your belly, and then slowly exhale from your mouth, allowing all the air to exit and your stomach muscles to relax. Repeat four or five times.
  • Meditation: Deeper meditation requires a combination of clearing your mind and deep breathing. Set aside 15 minutes once or twice a day, around the same time of day if possible. In a quiet room, do a round of deep breathing, and then focus on a word or phrase that makes you feel calm. Repeat that word or phrase over and over in your head, focusing on its sound. If you have trouble concentrating, do another round of deep breathing and try to focus on the word again. Meditation can be extremely helpful, but it takes practice, so if it doesn't feel right the first time, keep trying.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: In order to appreciate the feeling of relaxing your muscles, you need to feel the contrast to when they are tensed. Focusing on one muscle group at a time, gently tense each muscle group for a count of five, and then slowly release until it goes totally limp, focusing on how your muscles feel once relaxed. Work your way through all your body parts, from your face to your feet. Be careful when tensing though – doing it too hard could trigger a muscle spasm, so gradually increase tension to determine how much works for you.
  • Visualization: Give yourself a mental vacation! As in the "clearing your mind" exercise, relax in a quiet room and then picture a relaxing scene – only here, you put yourself in it. Imagine yourself in the scene and allow yourself to feel each sensation, sound, and smell associated with that scene.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Yoga-Mind-over-MS