THE BLOG

Yoga Poses for People With Multiple Sclerosis

06/04/2015 10:31 am ET | Updated Jun 04, 2016

A recent Rutgers University study found that women with moderate symptoms of multiple sclerosis experienced improvements in balance, walking, coordination, and quality of life after eight weeks of practicing yoga. 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.

Consult your doctor before starting a yoga practice, and begin with the easiest version of a pose before working toward the more challenging options. Seated versions can be done in a wheelchair or firm chair with a solid back, such as a folding chair, placed near a wall, on a yoga mat. 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.

girl performing mountain pose with overhead stretch

Mountain Pose with Overhead Stretch


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.

girl performing mountain pose with overhead stretch

Mountain Pose with Overhead Stretch


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.

girl performing mountain pose with overhead stretch variation 3

Mountain Pose with Overhead Stretch


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.

Improve your balance and coordination by completing the full sequence.