Yoga Moves MS founder Mindy Eisenberg was recently published in the March/April 2023 issue of the academic journal Holistic Nursing Practice Vol. 37 Issue 2. The article, titled “Exploring an 8-Week Online Adaptive Yoga Program for Multiple Sclerosis A Pilot Study,” was authored by Mindy K. Robert, Mary Anne Hales Reynolds, Mindy Eisenberg, and Ann Rocha.
Studying online adaptive yoga for MS
The study looked at an 8-week adaptive yoga intervention for people with Multiple Sclerosis to asses symptom severity and quality of life before and after the program. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease with no known cure that causes symptoms including cognitive impairment, vision problems, fatigue, spasticity, pain and paresthesias, balance difficulties, bladder and bowel dysfunction, and mood disorders. Many individuals turn to complementary therapies such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or other interventions to assist with symptom management.
The adaptability of yoga, its general cost-effectiveness, lower safety risks, and collective health benefits make yoga an appropriate intervention for those with neurological dysfunction or decline. People with MS benefit greatly from exercise but are less likely to partake in physical activity than the general population due to functional limitations and lack of confidence to exercise.
Participants perceived symptom improvement
In this study eight participants with multiple sclerosis finished an eight-week pilot study of virtual adaptive yoga and completed pre- and post-program surveys about their experience. Participants received Yoga Moves MS Adaptive Yoga Cards and were encouraged to practice on their own twice weekly between live sessions.
The vast majority of participants (87.5%) reported improvement in balance, depression and anxiety, spasticity and muscle tightness, and self-confidence in their ability to exercise upon completing the program. Participants who practiced yoga and breathing exercises at home between live sessions reported reduced spasticity, increased flexibility, stress reduction, and less anxiety.
Results and further research
The study found that online yoga for people with MS is safe and feasible. While some technical issues arose for participants throughout the 8-weeks, the social connection between participants and close monitoring by the instructor for safety concerns outweighed any technical issues that arise at times during all virtual offerings.
This study was the first ever to look at online yoga’s impact on people with MS. Due to the small sample size, the results of the study cannot be generalized to the entire population of people with MS. The perceived improvements in symptoms were not statistically significant, which may be due to the short duration of the program or the day-to-day variability in MS symptoms. Further studies could compare virtual to online adaptive yoga and optimal class size and duration.
About Holistic Nursing Practice
Holistic Nursing Practice (HNP), The Science of Health and Healing, is a peer-reviewed bimonthly journal that explores holistic models of nursing practice. Content emphasizes complementary traditional and holistic nursing and healthcare practices. Articles include theory-based interventions and their outcomes, including: innovations in holistic nursing practice; research related to holistic nursing practice, health care, and policy; and values and ethical-legal issues related to holistic nursing practices. The holistic approach is a worldview that emphasizes the potential for health and healing in human systems rather than on disease process and deficit.