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Yoga for MS: February 22, 2012

Ruth Rowan looks forward to her weekly yoga class. It’s a great relief for her mind and her body.

“I was diagnosed with MS 34 years ago and I was completely paralyzed on my left side. Mine is mainly in my walking and I tire very easily, my balance. So the yoga that has been helping me now.”

Multiple sclerosis or MS attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms include numbness in limbs, tremors, dizziness and fatigue. Both of Lee Memorial Health System’s wellness centers offer a gentle yoga class designed for people with MS.

“Basically everybody does flexibility for hamstrings and legs and we do poses to relax, to relax the rigidity that they have,” says Tina Johnson, an exercise specialist at the Lee Center for Rehabilitation and Wellness.

Yoga is based on flexibility. It’s meant to stretch the individual regardless of their strengths and limitations. Which is why it’s a great fit for people with MS.

“I have some people in wheelchairs, I have some in walkers, I have some that have no problem walking. The nice thing about yoga is it can be adapted to each level based on however they’re presenting with the MS,” says Johnson.

Studies show yoga reduces stress and fatigue, problems that disable up to 80% of MS patients. As for Ruth, the group atmosphere gives her a lift.

“It has kept me mobile. I’ve been coming for two years and I feel without coming here I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”

She finds striking a few simple poses helps keep her life in balance.