By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Patients, 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.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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