Researchers at the Rutgers University School Of Health Related Professional recently completed a study of a specialized Yoga program and the effects of the program on MS patients.

I’ve personally tried Yoga before and at least for me it was helpful but like many things in life it just sorta fell off the radar in favor of going to the Rochester Athletic Club.  Atop that, it seemed like alot for me to learn.  One of the things I have personally found with my MS when it comes to coping is start with the basics otherwise things can become really frustrating.  Then find your zone from there when trying new things.

This specialized Yoga program incorporates mind, body and spirit and the subjects in the study were 14 women between the ages of 34 and 64 years of age.  The target or end point of the study was to see any benefits in respect to mental health, bladder control, walking, balance, concentration, motor skills, vision, fatigue and any decreases in pain.

While like myself, the researchers already were aware that Yoga can be beneficial the matters of practicing safe yoga or really the effectiveness of it within a group study really has not been addressed very well.  As such a researcher, Susan Gould Fogerite who is the director of research at the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the School of Health Related Professions decided to assess a yoga program for MS patients and any physical and / or mental improvement might occur.

The research was also in collaboration with physical therapists and associate professors.  The subject patients all suffered moderate disability due to MS.  For eight week the women practiced the yoga techniques and exercises meant to improve stamina, posture and teach relaxation techniques as well as focus.  Twice a week for 90 minutes the women engaged in Yoga.

When the study was completed patients showed improved balance, motor coordination and could walk short distances for longer intervals than they could prior to the yoga exercise’s.  Additionally noted were improvements in concentration, vision, pain, fatigue and even bladder control!

Currently yoga is not widely prescribed for people afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis.  Fogerite emphasized that a larger randomized controlled study would be necessary to truly confirm if yoga can or should be prescribed to threat moderate disabilities pertaining to MS.

“This study, I hope, is one of many that will give us the clinical information we need,” said Fogerite. “Yoga is not currently being widely prescribed for people with MS, although it might turn out to be a very helpful treatment. “Yoga is not just exercise, it is a whole system of living,” said Fogerite. “The panel of experts who advised us on the trial wanted to make sure that we provided a fully integrated program that included philosophy, breathing practices, postures, relaxation and meditation.””

 

Always consult with your health care team before beginning any new activity relating to managing your MS.  With yoga, being with the easiest poses before moving to any other more sophisticated options.  Many of the procedures can be done while sitting in a firm chair with a solid back or in a wheel chair even.  A folding chair, placed near a wall, on a yoga mat works.  If it is a metal or unpadded chair, you might want a firm folded blanket over the seat and through the back of the chair so it doesn’t slide. If at any time you are not able to physically perform a posture, you can picture yourself doing it, or if someone is available, have them help move you through it safely.

If you have MS, these five poses from the research team are a great way to start a home practice or contact the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to find a class, teacher, or video based on your location and symptoms.

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[tie_slide] Mountain Pose with overhead stretch

Yoga Tadasana-Easiest
Tadasana Easy (click image)

Yoga Tadasana, variation 1

Easiest
Seated in a chair, root into your sit bones and feet. Extend up through your spine. Feel your spine lifting from your waist, heart lifted and open, shoulders soft, wide and released down from ears, and crown of head lifting with neck long. Place hands on thighs or on seat sides to support spinal lift if needed. Pause, breathe, and observe. With an inhale, gently, slowly, with awareness, raise your left arm overhead, or as high as you are able, reaching through your fingertips. Use your right arm to support your left arm if needed. Maintain your left arm up while exhaling and extend upward while inhaling. Lower your arm slowly with an exhale. Repeat the sequence, raising the right arm. Repeat, raising both arms. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat if desired.

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Mountain Pose with overhead stretch

Yoga Tadasana - More Challenging
Tadasana – More Challenging (click image)

Yoga Tadasana, variation 2

More challenging
Stand behind a chair with your back near or against the wall, hands resting on or holding onto the back of the chair. Root into your feet, rise up through your center. Feel your spine lifting from your waist, heart lifted and open, shoulders soft, wide and released from ears, and crown of head lifting with neck long. Pause, breathe, and observe. With an inhale, gently, slowly, with awareness, raise your left arm overhead, or as high as you are able, reaching through the fingertips. Hold onto or rest the right hand on the back of the chair. Maintain your left arm up while exhaling and extend upward while inhaling. Lower your arm gently with an exhale. Repeat the sequence, raising your right arm. Repeat, raising both arms if comfortable. Alternatively, if it feels comfortable and safe, face the wall and walk your hands up the wall to obtain the stretch. Breathe at the top of the stretch, and walk your hands back down while exhaling. Before you start, turn the chair so the seat is facing the wall and is directly behind you, in case you want to sit. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat if desired.

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[tie_slide] Mountain Pose with overhead stretch

Yoga Tadasana - Most Challenging
Tadasana – Most Challenging (click image)

Yoga Tadasana, variation 3

Most challenging
Stand between the wall and the chair, facing the back of the chair. Root into your feet, rise up through your center. Feel your spine lifting out of your waist, heart lifted and open, shoulders soft, wide and released from ears, crown of head lifting with neck long. Rest your arms at the sides of your body. Pause, breathe, and observe. With an inhale, gently, slowly, with awareness, raise your left arm overhead, or as high as you are able, reaching through the fingertips. Maintain your left arm up while exhaling and extend upward while inhaling. Lower arm gently with exhale. Repeat the sequence, raising the right arm. Repeat raising both arms if comfortable. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat if desired.

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[tie_slide] Forward Bend to waist height

Uttanasana Easy
Uttanasana Easy (click image)

Uttanasana, variation 1

Easiest
From seated Tadasana, hands holding onto the sides of a chair, take a deep inhale and extend your spine upward. As you slowly exhale, bend forward toward your thighs, extending from the hips with a long spine. Stay here and inhale extending and exhale relaxing. On an inhale, with spine straight, return to sitting up, using your arms to help if needed. If comfortable, bring both arms overhead on an inhale and bend forward on the exhale, bringing your hands onto your knees, a chair seat, or to a wall in front of you. Inhaling with your arms raised, come back to sitting up straight. Lower your arms slowly with awareness, while exhaling. Pause, breathe, and observe. Repeat if desired.

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Forward Bend to waist height

Uttanasana Challenging
Uttanasana Challenging (click image)

Yoga Uttanasana, variation 2

More challenging
Stand behind a chair in Tadasana with your back near a wall, hands resting on or holding onto the back of the chair. Take a deep inhale and extend your spine upward. As you slowly exhale, take small steps backward so that you can bend your torso forward, keeping your head and shoulders at hip height or higher. Inhaling, stretch gently from your hands to your hips. If it feels appropriate and helpful, you can have your hips and heels against the wall. Inhaling, walk forward up to standing. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat if desired.

 

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Forward Bend to waist height (away from wall)

Uttanasana Most Challenging
Uttanasana Most Challenging (click image)

Yoga Uttanasana, variation 3

Most challenging
Stand between a wall and a chair, facing the back of the chair. Root into your feet. With a deep diaphragmatic inhale, extend upward through your spine and raise both arms slowly with awareness. Exhaling slowly, with arms alongside your head, bend forward, extending from the hips with a long spine. Bring hands to the back of the chair. Inhaling, stretch gently from your hands to your hips and exhale relaxing into the stretch. On an inhale, with spine straight, and arms alongside your head, return to standing up. Exhale, lower arms to your sides. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat if desired.

 

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Warrior Pose II

Warrior II Easy
Warrior II Easy (click image)

Yoga Virabhadrasana II, variation 1

Easiest
Seated in a chair without sides, hold onto the right side of chair seat with right hand and slide to the left of the chair seat. Hold onto front of chair with your left hand just to the left of your right leg. Inhaling, extend your left leg back with your toes bent forward and grounding through the ball of your foot. Ground through your right foot in front of the chair. Rotate your torso to the left. Switch your left hand to holding the side or back of the chair and right hand to the front of the chair. Inhaling, extend up through your spine. Breathing diaphragmatically, get quiet in the pose. Inhale, rotate your torso front and bring your hands to the sides of the chair. Exhale, bring your left leg back to the front and move to the center of the chair. Pause, breathe, and observe. Repeat on the other side.
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Warrior Pose II

WarriorII - More Challenging
WarriorII – More Challenging (click image)

Yoga Virabhadrasana II, variation 2

More challenging
Stand behind a chair in Tadasana with your back near the wall, hands resting on or holding onto the back of the chair. On an exhale, step your left leg out to the side toward the wall with your foot at about a 45-degree angle, with your heel into the wall. Leaving your right hand on the chair back, reach back with your left hand and place your palm on the wall with fingers pointing up. Place your forward (right) leg so it’s facing the chair and bend your knee at a 45-90 degree angle. Make sure your knee is over your ankle, not your foot. Tuck your tailbone slightly, let your shoulders be over your hips, and look out over your front arm. Breathing diaphragmatically, get quiet in the pose. Inhaling, straighten your front leg. Exhaling, bring your back leg to center under your torso. Exhaling bring your front leg back under you. Remove the left hand from the wall and bring it to the chair. Return to Tadasana with hands on the chair. Pause, breathe, and observe. Repeat with the right leg back at the wall.

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Warrior Pose II

WarriorII Most Challenging
WarriorII Most Challenging (click image)

Yoga Virabhadrasana II, variation 3

Most challenging
Stand between a chair and a wall in Tadasana. On an exhale, step your left leg out to the side toward the wall with your foot at about a 45-degree angle with your heel into the wall. Place your forward (right) leg so it’s facing the chair and bend your knee at a 45-90 degree angle. Make sure your knee is over your ankle, not your foot. Inhaling, raise both arms to horizontal, over your legs, reaching through your fingertips. Tuck your tailbone slightly, let your shoulders be over your hips, and look out over your front arm. Breathing diaphragmatically, get quiet in the pose. Inhaling, straighten your front leg. Exhaling, lower your arms and return to Tadasana. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat with the right leg back at the wall.

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Cobra Pose

Cobra Easy
Cobra Easy (click image)

Bhujangasana, variation 1

Easiest
Seated in a chair with your legs together, reach your arms back to hold your hands or wrists or elbows behind your back, or on sides of chair, or interlace fingers behind your head. Inhaling, lengthen up through your spine, arch from your heart area, pull your shoulder blades together and lengthen your neck.  Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Exhaling, return to sitting up straight.

 

 

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Cobra Pose

Cobra More Challenging
Cobra More Challenging (click image)

Bhujangasana, variation 2

More challenging
Lying on your belly on a yoga mat on the floor, place small folded blanket under your chest across breast line. Place hands palms down on the blanket. Inhaling, gently push the torso up slightly, extending through the spine. Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Exhale and rest on the blanket. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat.

 

 

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Cobra Pose

Cobra Most Challenging
Cobra Most Challenging (click image)

Bhujangasana, variation 3

Most challenging
Lying on your belly on a yoga mat on the floor, place hands palms down on the floor next to chest. Legs are together, muscles gently activated. Inhaling, gently push the torso up to the degree that is comfortable, extending through the spine. Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Exhaling, release gently back to floor. Pause, breathe and observe. Repeat.

 

 

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Twist

Twist Easiest
Twist Easiest (click image)

Supta Matsyendrasana, variation 1

Easiest
Seated in a chair, on an inhale, lengthen your spine. On the exhale, gently revolve your torso to one side using the chair seat and back for support with your hands. Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Pause, breathe, and observe. Repeat, turning the opposite way.

 

 

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Twist

Twist More Challenging
Twist More Challenging (click image)

Supta Matsyendrasana, variation 2

More challenging
Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet on the floor. Place rolled blankets on either side from your hip past knee height. Stretch your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with palms down. Tucking and grounding your shoulder blades, inhaling, lengthen your spine. Exhaling, release knees to the left onto the blanket, look right. Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Inhaling, bring head and knees back to center. Exhaling, drop, knees to the right and look left.  Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Pause, breathe, and observe.

 

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Twist

Twist Most Challenging
Twist Most Challenging (click image)

Supta Matsyendrasana, variation 3

Most challenging
Lie on your back with your left leg straight and your right knee bent. Extend your arms out at shoulder height, palms down, grounding through your shoulder blades. Inhaling, lengthen your spine. Exhaling, release your right knee to the left, look right.  Place your left hand on your right thigh. Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Inhaling, bring your head and knee back to the center.  Straighten your right leg and bend your left leg. Exhaling, release left knee to the right and look left.  Breathe and get quiet in the posture. Pause, breathe, and observe.
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