By Faye Martins
Specialized yoga instructor training intensives address many different neurological disorders. Among the many neurological disorders multiple sclerosis (MS) is well known. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease affecting the body’s autoimmune system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. For reasons that are often unknown, patients with MS incur inflammation and damage to the nerves throughout the body. Nerve damage results in a host of problems that range in severity and longevity. Common symptoms of MS include loss of balance and coordination, weakness in the arms and legs, muscle spasms, constipation, double vision and depression.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this debilitating disease. Patients must undergo a lifetime of various therapies and medications to cope with MS on a regular basis. Many patients have realized the benefits that yoga training can provide to reduce the symptoms of MS. Therapeutic yoga is a gentle, natural way to lift your spirits while improving strength, balance, coordination, digestive problems and fatigue.
If you suffer from MS, try to find a yoga instructor that has been specifically trained in teaching students with MS. Trained instructors will be able to provide specific pose sequences to combat common symptoms. When you are in remission, you can maintain a regular yoga practice. When the severe symptoms strike, try to maintain the practice by modifying the postures and routines.
Hatha yoga has been proven to reduce fatigue, numbness of the limbs and heat intolerance while improving balance, coordination and flexibility. Hatha is what most western students would consider a “typical” class, incorporating breathing and meditation with a series of postures. Practitioners who practice Hatha seek to unite the body and mind to create balance, peace and unity within the body. MS patients can benefit greatly from this unity and body awareness.
Pranayama – Yogic Breathing
When you make each exhale a bit longer than each inhale, the nervous system becomes calm. Breathing also helps relieve any tension in the muscles. Deep breaths help clear the mind and promote a sense of wellness. Deep, deliberate breathing is a simple act that can produce huge benefits for MS patients.
Asana – Postures
There are many specific postures that will improve balance. Patients can practice mountain pose, the warrior pose series and triangle pose to improve balance over time. All of the other postures also work to improve flexibility. If you are a beginner, remember to be patient and not expect immediate results. Asanas may seem awkward at first, but as you progress you will find a better sense of fluidity.
The symptoms of MS are life altering. It makes sense that people suffering from the disease will feel depressed, angry or hopeless. The meditative portion of yogic methodology can help people regain a sense of peace and purpose in life.
Side Notes for Yoga Teachers
If you intend on working with students who have neurological disorders, it would be prudent to take a specialized yoga teacher training course. Some styles to consider are Restorative, Viniyoga, Iyengar, and Yoga therapy. Independent research is also valuable in order to gain an understanding of the results in medical studies, trials, and research. It is wise to network with the local medical community. Although yogic methodology and therapy’s coexistence along side western medicine is a new concept, there is acceptance and much promise in the near future.
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