Yoga can be beneficial to people with MS as long as they find the appropriate class, teacher or video. More and more MS experts note that yoga, with its emphasis on relaxation, breathing, stretching and deliberate movements, is a good choice of exercise. How can someone with MS find the right type of yoga, the right class, and the inspiration to try it?
Some programs emphasize detail of alignment by holding poses (such as Iyengar); others run positions together in sequences (Flow and Ashtanga for examples). Some are meant to be aerobic; others stress meditation. A teacher of one mode may not say that there are other kinds of yoga that might be more suited to your needs.
You'll have to learn to ask questions.
All styles have qualities in common
They use poses and breathing techniques to focus the mind on the body (“union”)
They are individualized, non-competitive and adaptable
They emphasize alignment, which benefits posture and balance
They educate about where muscles are and how to strengthen and stretch them
They release tension so the body feels more energized
They teach relaxation techniques to reduce stress
Yoga for MS? Yes, give it a try! But, as with any exercise program, check with your physician first.
Finding a qualified yoga instructor
As there are currently no recognized standards for the use of the term “yoga therapist” we encourage you to do some research before selecting a practitioner. When contacting professionals who describe themselves as yoga therapists, inquire about what they do, including special skills or areas of expertise. Request information on their experience, training and education.
International Association of Yoga Therapists
PO Box 251563
Little Rock, AR 72225
Provides an online search tool to locate yoga therapists throughout the world. Search from over 3,000 listings by location or therapist name.
1701 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22209
Provides an online search tool to locate Registered Yoga Teachers (RYTs) and Experienced Registered Yoga Teachers (E-RYTs). Search from over 60,000 listings by location, yoga style or therapist name. Learn more about the benefits of yoga, the variety of yoga styles and how to select a yoga teacher.
Yoga Finder Worldwide
Provides an online search tool to locate yoga classes throughout the world.
YOGA for MS: Pathways Exercise Video for People with Limited Mobility
This yoga-based exercise program is suitable for people with full or limited mobility. (But you must be able to get up and down from the floor to a chair.) 48 minutes.
YOGA for Arthritis and Related Conditions
This video has been used widely by thousands of people with MS. It shows five people, one of whom has MS, with varying levels of ability doing poses at different levels. It is also appropriate for those in wheelchairs. 52 minutes.
Both videos are by Shoosh Lettick Crotzer. To order, visit Mobility Limited or call 800-366-6038 for further information.
Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis: A Journey to Health and Healing by Eric Small and Dr. Loren Fishman. This book provides descriptions of adapted poses. To order, visit Demos Health Publishing or call 800-532-8663.
This webpage was written by Shoosh Lettick Crotzer. Ms. Crotzer has been teaching yoga since 1974 and has developed a specialty working with students who have special needs. She has a Masters’ Degree in Diagnostic Education that provides her with the experience of working with people with disabilities that she uses in her teaching. To learn more about Ms. Crotzer, please visit mobilityltd.com.