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Nonprofit Organization Provides Free Yoga and Meditation Classes to MS Patients

July 18, 2017

In the past, we have written many yoga and meditation posts for our readers, giving tips and yoga routines for you to try at home. Basic Home Infusion got the chance to sit down with Loretta Turner, Director of Program Development, for the nonprofit organization, Kula for Karma. Kula offers free meditation and yoga classes to certain populations in need, transforming lives and changing the face of healthcare. They provide classes for populations such as cancer, cardiac, disordered eating, substance abuse, trauma, and many other conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS). We chatted with Loretta about her experience teaching MS patients.

What are some of the benefits of practicing yoga as an MS Patient?

Yoga is highly beneficial for individuals with movement disorders, including those with MS. Yoga can train individuals to strengthen muscles that have become weak, as well as support better coordination and balance. Other benefits include tools to elicit relaxation, improve the immune system and decreases stress.

Describe what takes place during a class strictly for MS patients.

A typical MS class would likely include yoga props (i.e. a soft yoga blanket or a chair) to make sure individuals are comfortable. The teacher would offer very light breathing techniques and movements that would promote strength and flexibility, but without overworking or overheating students. The teacher would need to be mindful of the unpredictability of MS, including fall prevention, fatigue and visual challenges.

What is the recommended age range to attend a class, and how many times a week would be ideal?

At Kula for Karma we offer one weekly class at multiple hospitals, and it is required that all MS patients receive clearance from their doctors before participating in our program. All of our instructors are trained to understand that the tendency of this disease can be active at some times, and less in evidence at other times. They also understand that each student will present with different symptoms, at different times. We do not discriminate against age. The frequency of which one participates in a yoga class and at what age is highly dependent on the information above.

What are some challenges that you, and/or your students have faced when practicing?

Our teachers at Kula for Karma have shared that sometimes working with individuals in different stages of the disease is challenging.

“What is unique to this population is the extreme variance in the abilities and limitations of those who come. One person may be young, recently diagnosed and fully mobile, versus the next who is much further along in their progression and confined to a wheelchair. Teachers must be comfortable and know how to adapt class to benefit all of the.” – Kula for Karma yoga teacher.

Do you have any tips or recommended resources available for MS patients who are interested in practicing yoga?

Please visit www.kulaforkarma.org to learn more about our upcoming advanced training for Yoga and Movement Disorders: MS & Parkinson’s.

As Loretta mentioned, if you’d like to volunteer, donate, or even participate in their classes, you can visit them at their website: http://www.kulaforkarma.org/.