Disability Issues

Yoga helps those with multiple sclerosis

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yoga uses movement and stretching to enhance strength, balance, flexibility and coordination, which are essential for everyone, including those with disabilities.

There are a number of yoga programs modified to fit every individual's disabilities. A new nationwide yoga program for people with multiple sclerosis is designed to be used anywhere at anytime. Baron Baptiste is a world-renowned yoga expert. He has co-created a program called My MS Yoga.

"For people who have MS and struggle with different issues like balance, fatigue, muscle stiffness. Depression is something that people with MS commonly struggle with," he said. "My MS Yoga program [is] to meet the needs of people with MS and to empower them so they can get stronger in their bodies and in their attitudes toward life and toward themselves."

"My MS Yoga is not different from the standpoint of the benefits of yoga present. And its the same poses, the same practices, but what's different about My MS Yoga is that it's adapted its yoga practice for people with MS and made accessible, so, any age, any physical condition," Baptiste said.

Kendall Freeman is a young mom of two who has MS.

"I got diagnosed with MS late 2004 after I had my first daughter. I lost complete vision in my right eye. Then, I had a couple of other episodes where I lost ability to walk, and I lost a lot of my balance control, and it started to become a really bad issue because I wasn't able to go upstairs. I wasn't able to walk, play with my daughters," Freeman said.

With new medications and yoga adapted for her MS, Kendall became active again.

"It's really great with this because I can do, you know, like I said, chair exercises. So, I can still do warrior in the chair and do tree where you hold onto the back of the chair, but I'm able to keep up with the class," said Freeman.

Physicians like Dr. Elizabeth Hartman from University of Chicago hospitals recommends yoga for her MS patients.

"Yoga does focus on core strength, flexibility, balance, and it can help with all those issue that our MS patients may have," Hartman said.

The good thing about My MS Yoga is you can do it anywhere at any time.

"We filmed three DVDs and each one has a different focus, a different emphasis," said Baptiste. "The DVDs are free of charge."

"I'm very proud of the fact that I'm able to like still stretch, and I'm able to still run that long distance and keep up with the girls. So, I think yoga helps to maintain, and that's a big thing about MS is you have to maintain a certain level of it," Freeman said.

To learn more about My MS Yoga and their free DVDs go to www.MyMSYoga.com.

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