Yoga is good for everyone, but it’s especially important for people living with health conditions. MS and other autoimmune conditions can feel like your body betrayed you, but yoga can help you rebuild a loving relationship with your body.
Yoga is so much more than what happens on the mat. It’s a comprehensive toolkit for wellbeing, combining exercise, meditation, breathing, philosophy, ethics and spiritual tools.
Don’t be intimidated.
The benefits of immersing yourself into yoga are phenomenal, but even dipping a toe in can make a huge difference to your life. The deeper and more consistently you practice, the more you will discover.
So what can yoga do for MS?
1. Build strength and mobility
Yoga asana (the practice of the physical poses) is a low impact mode of exercise that challenges your whole body. Most poses can be adapted, so they are accessible to everyone.
Some poses strengthen major muscle groups, addressing weakness and mobility, while others strengthen intrinsic and core muscles crucial for balance. Mindfully moving through a sequence of poses also improves muscle memory and flexibility.
2. Tackle tension
Gently stretching different areas of the body reduces tension, easing headaches and muscle pain, as well as building flexibility and reducing spasticity.
3. Activate healing mode
Pranayama practice teaches you how to use the power of your breath to manage stress and activate the para-sympathetic nervous system. This puts your body into the “rest and digest” mode it needs for healing.
4. Improve mental resilience
Mindfulness and meditation are powerful mental tools with far-reaching impacts. They can help develop focus. They can help with anxiety and stress; key to managing and reducing flare ups. They can keep you calm during MRIs and treatments. Yoga nidra, a guided relaxation meditation, can even help tackle insomnia.
5. Check in with yourself
Your regular yoga practice is the perfect opportunity to check in with your body and mind. Yoga encourages you into the role of the observer, to look objectively at how you are feeling, allowing you to quickly spot and act on new symptoms.
6. Level up your lifestyle
Yoga provides a set of principles for living that will help you develop compassion and patience, with yourself and others. The Yamas and Niyamas set out the yogic dos and don’ts for life. Your yoga toolkit can also help you set intentions, counteract negative thinking, and find happiness and joy around you.
With doYoga.MS, you can explore everything that yoga has to offer, and understand the science behind these benefits. To get started, join the doYoga.MS community by subscribing and following on Instagram and Twitter.