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Yoga for students with Multiple Sclerosis(7 posts) (6 voices)
I have a new student with Multiple Sclerosis in my class. She gets around pretty good, because she uses a cane, and she has a folded chair available in class. Hopefully someone has some insight about yoga students with Multiple Sclerosis or anything similar.
Please help me.
It is interesting that you should mention this subject. Many of my local students have neurological disorders, but Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson's Disease, seem to be the most common neurological disorders in my area
Can Yoga therapy help people with Multiple Sclerosis?
In 2004, an Oregon Health and Science University study found that Yoga significantly reduced fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis. Data and studies regarding Yoga therapy for Multiple Sclerosis are scarce, but physical activity is definitely important for anyone with MS.
What is Multiple Sclerosis and how can Yoga help? Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is generally classified as a neurological disorder. To be a bit more specific, MS is a chronic disease in which there is loss of myelin (the covering and insulation of our nerve fibers), in the central nervous system. MS is often characterized by speech defects, problems with vision, and loss of muscular coordination.
Yoga has managed to fill the gap for many who have MS, because the physical practice of posture and breath can be modified for any individual, regardless of their condition. With the right teacher, you can learn posture (asana) and breathing techniques (pranayama) from a wheel chair or a hospital bed.
What can we realistically expect Yoga therapy to do for those who have MS? Yoga enables anyone to set goals. The physical practice of postures can strengthen the legs. In turn, a person who has sat in the wheel chair and put their walker aside, for a while, may develop the strength to stand with an assist and hold this posture with less fatigue.
Meditation is also a valuable component of every complete Yoga practice. Meditation releases muscular tension, instills positive energy, and enhances body awareness. As a result of this holistic approach to MS management, Yoga will work well in conjunction with medication and western medicines approach to Multiple Sclerosis treatment.
In the future, we intend on having teacher workshops for this need.
Here is a little more about teaching students who have MS. Hopefully, you will make the best use of this information by helping students who have Multiple Sclerosis.
Students, with Multiple Sclerosis, can expect to feel benefits from regular yoga practice. Fatigue, pain, numbness, weakness, and lack of coordination, plague sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Yoga can alleviate these symptoms with regular practice, and help students find their bodies again.
Yoga has been practiced for centuries - to holistically balance four elements of our existence. Our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are addressed in the practice of Yoga. Historically, the vast multitude of diseases has shown a profound and wide imbalance of these elements. MS is a disease of the Central Nervous System.
This auto-immune disease breaks down nerve insulation (myelin) in the cerebral and spinal nerves. In turn, this causes confusion within the nerve communication, and signals get crossed or blocked. The result is a body and mind that can become completely disabled.
The good news is that in recent studies, the benefits of yoga have shown promise. In fact, the National MS Society has several chapters that hold regular yoga sessions. Study participants experienced lower levels of pain, more coordination, and higher energy levels.
MS can be very unpredictable. Different symptoms can affect different sufferers and at varying levels. Fatigue and stress are the most disabling for the highest majority of MS patients. Regular, physical activity is absolutely essential to maintain quality of life for sufferers of MS. Yoga is an excellent, low impact activity that has a high level of success in fighting stress and fatigue.
Another benefit is yoga's adaptability to meet the needs of the individual. Yoga postures can be modified and altered for differing levels of ability. Some with MS lead fairly able lives, while others spend most of their days in wheel chairs. There are a variety of terms used to define the levels of Multiple Sclerosis, such as:
1. Relapsing/Remitting (RRMS)
2. Secondary Progressive (SPMS)
3. Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (PRMS)
4. Primary Progressive (PPMS)
These might be considered the main four categories, but there even more terms used, because multiple sclerosis can attack in a variety of ways. For yoga instructors, this means pursuing continuing education, recognizing differences, and becoming creative with props, modifications, and assists.
When they are available, yoga teacher assistants can assist those who cannot hold a pose, themselves, by physically helping them into position. This in itself has become an art form. In this way, the student will gain the maximum benefit from yoga practice, despite their daily struggles.
Yoga instructors, who have students with MS, can use a wall, counter top, walker, or parallel bars, to assist with balance, and to give their students a physical reference point. Depending on the level of physical ability, a hands-on assist may be required.
Often, the nervous system ds not successfully relay all the necessary information to the body. A physical assist helps with coordination and balance. As students progress with yoga postures, nerves are further stimulated, stress is reduced, and symptoms of MS are lessened.
Yoga breathing (pranayama) exercises will reduce stress and enable relaxation. No matter what level of ability yoga students with MS have, they can benefit from the different methods of pranayama.
Some theories, about how MS attacks the nervous system, state that high stress levels may cause further lesions of the nerve insulation (myelin). By preventing and relieving stress with regular yoga practice, MS sufferers may suspend the progression of the disease.
Other benefits that yoga can provide are flexibility and strength. Damaging lesions to the central nervous system are aggravated by muscle atrophy. If nearby muscle tissue, that is otherwise healthy, becomes weak, the disease progresses at a faster rate. Yoga postures strengthen, and increase, muscle tone throughout the body, resulting in a higher degree of immunity and physical integrity.
By stretching the muscles, and holding the poses, the muscles gain strength and release their tension (lessening spasms). Regular yoga practice also improves circulation and improves oxygen absorption in the brain. This means the brain is getting more of what it needs to perform. Increased circulation directly correlates with improved nerve function, body awareness, and overall well being.
Students with MS should consult with their doctor for advice about which level of exercise is appropriate for their particular situation. Remember that breathing, in and of itself, is a physical exercise. Competent yoga instructors must stay informed, current, and be aware, when teaching students who have disabilities.
Teachers should guide students to focus on symmetry and precision while practicing yoga techniques. Students can build strength by holding postures for 30 seconds to a minute, if possible.
The synchronicity of movement and breath are extremely important. Through regular practice, for 15 to 30 minutes minimum, students with MS will see a great improvement in their range of movement and energy levels. Make certain to encourage your students to practice yoga at home.
If you have been diagnosed with MS, find a competent yoga teacher, who has experience with teaching students who have MS. Start making a daily habit of practicing yoga, right now. You have nothing to lose, and quite possibly, everything to gain.
In regards to MS, as a yoga teacher and an MS patient, I am happy to read that other MS patients are seeking yoga as an assist to healing.
I was Dx about 11 years ago, and began practicing yoga about 10 years ago. I believe that my practice has made it possible for me to avoid many of the physical problems associated with the disease (weakness, spasticity) and has significantly decreased the numbness in my hands and feet.
With that said, the cognitive issues cannot be ignored. A student with MS may need extra processing time to follow verbal directions and may look as if they are struggling to get into a pose when in actuality they are thinking it through! Spatial thinking may become impaired, and word retrieval problems are common. My students and I make jokes about the wrong body part or direction that I inevitably call out. More often than not I'll just take the pose and tell them "do this!". We laugh and move on. Your student with MS is not likley to be as OK and relaxed with their errors in front of strangers as I am. It's important to remember that slowed reaction or slowed speech ds not mean that the person lacks intelligence or spark. It just means that the neurons are not firing as expected that day...next class will be different, better or worse, for sure.
Know that as you introduce a person with MS to yoga, if they take the bait and really go for it, you are giving them a preciaous gift of improved life quality...Thank You!
MindyPosted 4 years ago #
Thank you for your insight. You made a good point when you said:
Quote:It's important to remember that slowed reaction or slowed speech ds not mean that the person lacks intelligence or spark. It just means that the neurons are not firing as expected that day...next class will be different, better or worse, for sure.
If a person has MS or has a loved one who ds we understand the reality of your words. Unfortunately, a larger portion of the public hasn't received the message yet. I sometimes see people who will not talk to a person with MS, but instead will talk to a family member of the person with MS - as if the person with MS isn't even there.
Sometimes society's neurons aren't firing as we might hope. But times are changing and people have gradually begun to understand what MS is. At the same time, medicine is beginning to accept yoga for neurological disorders.
Om Shanti,Posted 4 years ago #
I wanted to say that I am thrilled to hear there are others out there teaching students with Multiple Sclerosis. My mother has been diagnosed for 11 years now. I have been studying to become a teacher through aura wellness center and have been inspired to start a couple classes with one of my local gyms for MS and Limited Mobility.
Please continue to share your stories and findings of how you find to best teach patients with MS.
CandicePosted 3 years ago #
Thank you Candice,
I hope this thread will bear more fruit and knowledge in the future.Posted 2 years ago #
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