silhouette of yoga teacher in lotusBy Sangeetha Saran

Specialized Yoga teacher certification courses are growing to meet the needs of everyone. Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s fatty tissue, or myelin, is attacked and broken down by the immune system.

Among the symptoms are the following: weakness, numbness, or tingling in the limbs, intolerance to heat, difficulties with balance, walking becomes difficult, slurred speech, double vision, blurred vision, dizziness, difficulties with bowel movements, and bladder problems.

Therapeutic exercise is essential for MS sufferers, and Yoga is now recommended for treating and managing multiple sclerosis. The course of MS is hard to predict and the conditions of individuals range from those in wheelchairs to near-normal. Abilities to perform physical tasks vary greatly. According to researchers, however, anyone with MS can benefit from the practice of this ancient healing art.

Although Patanjali’s Yoga consists of eight limbs, three of the more well-known branches are commonly used in the therapeutic management of chronic illness or rehabilitation:

• Meditation (Dharana)

• Breathing exercises (pranayama)

• Physical Yoga poses (asana)

These three steps are an important part of any specialized therapeutic Yoga practice, but they are especially important to those struggling with MS and may be helpful in the following specific ways:

• Reduce physical and emotional tension and reduce muscle spasms

• Increase core strength and coordination

• Improve balance and posture

• Improve eyesight

• Tone and strengthen muscles

• Teach awareness of subtle changes within the body

• Increase energy and helps to relieve pain

• Improve circulation, enhance immune system, and organ function

• Reduce tension, anxiety, and depression, resulting from chronic illness

• Create a general sense of well-being and calm

• Promote adequate rest and sleep

• Teach breathing techniques

• Increase tolerance to heat

Although further information is needed, a study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed marked improvement in symptoms of fatigue among sufferers of multiple sclerosis who practiced Hatha Yoga. Hatha is a widely used term, however, most classes advertised as such; provide a general introduction to the practice and concentrate on gentle stretches, controlled breathing, and a sense of being present in the moment.

Regardless of participant abilities, the practice of Yoga can be amended to benefit the symptoms of MS. The general consensus among its proponents suggests that its ability to eliminate negative energy and promote relaxation may, also, be valuable in stopping recurrences of the illness (flare ups).

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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