Yoga may be beneficial for MS patients

Multiple Sclerosis is accepted as the most common Central Nervous System (CNS) disease worldwide and is among the autoimmune diseases group.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) disease has a complex aetiology and although there are many studies, its cause cannot be fully explained. It is believed to occur through the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. When low serum vitamin D levels, ultraviolet rays, smoking, childhood obesity and Epstein-Barr virus infection are evaluated together with the genetic history of the individual, it is shown that these causes play a major role in the development of the disease. In addition, it is important to improve the quality of life of these MS patients, and yoga has been studied in this sense.

ms, yoga, myelin sheath
In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibres, causing communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.

Nerve cells have protective sheaths that surround them, called myelin sheaths. In MS disease, the immune system of the individual cannot identify his own nerve cells and tries to destroy them, causing damage and/or destruction of the myelin sheaths called demyelination. As a result, CNS inflammation occurs. As a result, nerve cells are damaged and the nerve transmission is damaged. Various nervous system disorders occur as a result of damage to these nerve fibres, which are located in the white matter of the CNS and enable information exchange with other cells of the body. Double vision or blindness, incoordination, muscle weakness, numbness/tingling in the face or body, chronic pain and fatigue are among the common symptoms. These symptoms differ from individual to individual. Changes in mood and sleep problems are also common symptoms after an MS diagnosis.

MS patients are advised to eat healthily and act under the control of experts, and examine their own body, mind and emotional state as a whole while performing the movements. Thus, the individual will choose what is good for him with awareness and will try to minimize the aggressive course of the disease with self-awareness. For these reasons, the connection of MS disease with the philosophy and practice of Yoga has gained importance, especially in recent years, and the number of scientific studies on this subject is increasing day by day.

YOGA: A supportive approach to MS patients

Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”. The word yuj means oneness of body, mind and spirit, which means unity, devotion.


Yoga is a traditional method that originated in India over 5000 years ago. There are different types of yoga today. The underlying principle of all types of yoga is the same and consists of the forms of Asana (physical posture), Pranayama (breathing techniques), Dhayana (meditation).

Yoga in general; preserving its traditional form and philosophy, it is applied to develop mental and physical strength, endurance, flexibility, calmness and a sense of harmony. All postures are practiced by observing the body and mind. This allows the individual to observe and develop himself/herself as a whole with awareness.

The effect of yoga on individuals with MS has been examined from the past to the present.

Vasudeva ve arkadaşlarının (2020)

In the study of Vasudeva et al. (2020); The history of each MS patient was examined and the program was created as a group. In addition to the asanas, the traditional form of yoga was preserved, and speaking the philosophy of yoga, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation were included in the program. Certain sections from the book “Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras” have been selected and included in the program so that the patient can better synthesize himself in terms of pain and accept himself. This book was written by Patanjali, a sage. It is a book written in India between 500 and 400 AD and contains information about yoga from very ancient traditions. The daily routines (such as sleep patterns, and eating habits) of the patients participating in the program were arranged and also; A plant-based diet was recommended to patients. At the end of the study, the patient’s energy levels, pain states, balance in physical movements, strength and flexibility, self-confidence, urinary incontinence, sleep states, and changes in digestive and emotional states were examined. Positive results were obtained in all parameters examined and no side effects were reported.

In the study of Cohen et al. (2017); Yoga philosophy, breathing techniques and meditation were also included in the program along with asanas, and MS patients started a regular yoga program for eight weeks, twice a week. At the end of the program, each patient’s quality of life, mental status and physical condition were examined. It has been observed that the positive change in the mood of the individual increases the quality of life of the patient together with physical strengthening. No undesirable effects were reported.

In general, the purpose of all studies; The aim was to systematically evaluate and meta-analyze data on the efficacy and safety of yoga in improving health-related quality of life, fatigue, mobility, mood, and cognitive function in MS patients.

As a result, it has been reported that patients become more observant about their own moods and can change their reactions to daily situations consciously. Moreover; male patients reported that their families observed changes in mood and provided more support and encouragement. Overall, all patients reported that lifestyle changes and improved quality of life helped them.

Smile more at life with more Yoga. 🙂

Further reading

  • Alphonsus KB, Su Y, D’Arcy C. The effect of exercise, yoga and physiotherapy on the quality of life of people with multiple sclerosis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. Published online 2019. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.02.010
  • Cohen ET, Kietrys D, Fogerite SG, et al. Feasibility and Impact of an 8-Week Integrative Yoga Program in People with Moderate Multiple Sclerosis-Related Disability: A Pilot Study. Int J MS Care. 2017;19(1):30-39. doi:10.7224/1537-2073.2015-046
  • Cramer H, Lauche R, Azizi H, Dobos G, Langhorst J. Yoga for multiple sclerosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014;9(11):e112414. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112414
  • Dobson R, Giovannoni G. Multiple sclerosis – a review. Eur J Neurol. 2019;26(1):27-40. doi:10.1111/ene.13819
  • Dunne J, Chih HJ, Begley A, et al. A randomised controlled trial to test the feasibility of online mindfulness programs for people with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Relat Disord. Published online 2021. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2020.102728
  • Fasczewski KS, Garner LVM, Clark LA, Michels HS, Migliarese SJ. Medical Therapeutic Yoga for multiple sclerosis: examining self-efficacy for physical activity, motivation for physical activity, and quality of life outcomes. Disabil Rehabil. Published online 2020. doi:10.1080/09638288.2020.1760364
  • Field T. Yoga research review. Complement Ther Clin Pract. Published online 2016. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.06.005
  • Gannon S, Life D. Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul. Ballantine Books; 2002.
  • Skarlis C, Anagnostouli M. The role of melatonin in Multiple Sclerosis. Neurol Sci. Published online 2020. doi:10.1007/s10072-019-04137-2
  • Thakur P, Mohammad A, Rastogi YR, Saini R V., Saini AK. Yoga as an intervention to manage multiple sclerosis symptoms. J Ayurveda Integr Med. Published online 2020. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2019.04.005
  • Vasudevan S, Devulapally S, Chirravuri K, Elangovan V, Kesavan N. Personalized Yoga Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis: Effect on Symptom Management and Quality of Life. Int J Yoga Therap. Published online 2020. doi:10.17761/2021-d-19-00037
  • Young HJ, Mehta TS, Herman C, Wang F, Rimmer JH. The Effects of M2M and Adapted Yoga on Physical and Psychosocial Outcomes in People With Multiple Sclerosis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. Published online 2019. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2018.06.032

Edited on: 14 October 2022