MS and yoga: getting started

Just because it looks tricky doesn't mean you should be scared to give yoga a try. But before you don a pair of leggings and get ready to bend and twist, it's important to do your research. There is a wide variety of types of yoga, some more vigorous and challenging than others. Before you try one, it's important to check with your doctor and discuss with an experienced yoga instructor which form will best suit your needs and abilities.

Once you have decided on a type of yoga, it's time to find a class that suits your needs. If you have few mobility restrictions, a regular class may be appropriate. A good instructor should take your condition into account and can recommend modifications for any postures that may be too difficult. If you use a cane or walker, a chair yoga class or a class aimed at seniors may be a good match.

Dress for class wearing light, loose clothing that won't restrict your movement. Because some people experience a worsening of MS symptoms in the heat, it's important to wear clothes that allow you to stay cool and to make sure you practice yoga in a studio that is kept at a comfortable temperature. Some types of yoga are performed under extremely hot conditions, which may not be appropriate for people with MS.

When you start, make sure to take it at your own pace. If you've never done yoga before, try a beginner class, move slowly, and don't force movements if your body doesn't want to cooperate. While it's important to challenge yourself, it's also important that you not push yourself too hard. Yoga isn't a case of "no pain, no gain," so if a position hurts, ease up. With practice, you will become stronger and more flexible.

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