Yoga Reduces Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis Patients, Study Finds.

Yoga Reduces Fatigue In Multiple Sclerosis Patients, OHSU Study Finds

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ScienceDaily (June 10, 2004) — PORTLAND, Ore. — Just six months of yoga significantly reduces fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis, but it has no effect on alertness and cognitive function, says a new Oregon Health & Science University study.

The study, published June 8 in the journal Neurology, found that yoga is as good as a traditional aerobic exercise program in improving measures of fatigue, a common and potentially disabling symptom of MS. It was the first randomized, controlled trial of yoga in people with MS.

A parallel study by the same OHSU authors, presented in April at the 56th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, found that cognitive function does not improve among healthy seniors in a six-month yoga program or exercise class, but physical health and quality of life appear to be enhanced.

The MS study was not designed to determine the impact of yoga on the disease itself, said the study’s lead author, Barry Oken, M.D., professor of neurology and behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine. Rather, it was intended to determine the effect of yoga and aerobic exercise on cognitive function, fatigue, mood and quality of life among people with MS.

“There are some claims out there that yoga helps MS itself, that it can decrease the number of lesions” in the brain caused by MS, said Oken, director of the Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders (ORCCAMIND) at OHSU. “I’m not sure that that’s not the case, because stress may have an impact on MS. But that was not what we were trying to show.”

Study co-author Dennis Bourdette, M.D., professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Oregon, said yoga was studied because many people with MS already are using it and reporting benefits.

“We wanted to see whether or not it was beneficial when studied scientifically and how it compared with a type of exercise that physicians are more comfortable recommending — exercise on a stationary bicycle supervised by a physical therapist,” said Bourdette, chairman of the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and associate director of ORCCAMIND.

An earlier survey of nearly 2,000 MS patients in Oregon and southwest Washington found about 30 percent of respondents tried yoga. Of those, 57 percent reported it to be “very beneficial,” Bourdette noted. Indeed, many chapters of the National MS Society sponsor yoga programs.

“So it is used fairly commonly, and I believe with the publication of our results it will gain even more acceptance and use,” he said. The study “also clearly demonstrates that yoga postures can be modified for use among people with MS who have disabilities caused by their condition and that yoga can be done safely and effectively.”

The study examined 69 MS patients in three groups: one taking weekly Iyengar yoga classes along with home practice; another taking a weekly exercise class using a stationary bicycle along with home exercise; and a third group placed on a waiting list to serve as a control. Participants were monitored for attention, alertness, mood, anxiety, fatigue and overall quality of life.

The yoga classes were offered once a week for 90 minutes. Participants were taught up to 19 poses, each held for 10 seconds to 30 seconds with rest periods of 30 seconds to a minute. They also performed breathing exercises to promote concentration and relaxation, as well as progressive relaxation, visualization, and meditation techniques. And the daily home practice was strongly encouraged.

The MS study’s aerobic exercise component was similar to the yoga intervention, with one class per week plus home exercise. It consisted of bicycling on recumbent or dual-action stationary bicycles, and each class began and ended with about five minutes of stretching. Participants were given exercise bikes to use at home and were encouraged to use them outside of the weekly class.

While the yoga and aerobic exercise programs produced no significant changes in alertness, attention or other measures of cognitive function in MS patients compared with the waiting-list group, the study found there were improvements in two fatigue measurement tests.

“We think they’re equally beneficial for symptoms of fatigue from MS,” Oken said of yoga and aerobic exercise.

The study cautioned that the reasons behind the reduction in MS fatigue symptoms are unclear. The socialization aspect of the yoga and exercise classes, as well as a placebo effect — simply telling participants that the exercise program was specifically designed to improve psychological well-being — could be credited.

Yoga is a type of so-called mind-body medicine that includes tai-chi, meditation, and dance, music, and art therapy. It is a commonly practiced method involving behavioral, psychological, social and spiritual approaches to health, and it is centered around meditation, breathing, and postures.

Of the active or hatha yoga techniques, Iyengar yoga is the most common type practiced in the United States. Participants assume a series of stationary positions that employ isometric contraction and relaxation of different muscle groups to create specific body alignments. There also is a relaxation component.

“I see it mostly as a kind of physical activity with a stress-reduction component and body awareness features,” Oken said of yoga. “It has this aspect of bringing your attention to the present moment. But it’s hard to know if that’s due to relaxation or getting your mind not to worry for a little bit.”

Whatever the workout method, exercise seems to help MS patients reduce fatigue symptoms, Bourdette said.
“This is true whether the regular exercise is yoga, swimming, using a stationary bicycle or any other physical activity,” he said. “Sometimes the effects are quite dramatic and other times less so. But everyone with MS who exercises regularly reports benefit.”

The parallel study on the effects of yoga and exercise on healthy seniors focused on 136 participants aged 65 to 85. It showed there were some improvements in physical measures, such as cardiovascular fitness, and quality-of-life measures, such as energy and fatigue.

There was no improvement in measures of cognitive function, however, compared with a waiting-list control group.

“I was hoping to show some cognitive benefit, but the main benefit was a decrease in fatigue and higher energy levels,” Oken explained. “I think those relative benefits are only going to be seen over quite a long period of time. In healthy people, it’s probably going to be a fairly subtle effect.”

Both studies were funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Benefits of a Relaxation practice and Guided Rest and Relaxation practice – done seated on the chair. Releases pain and is effective for higher quality sleep.  In-person and Online Chair Yoga Classes for you and your employees.

Adaptive Chair Yoga for MS.

Here’s a link to my Yoga Nidra that I posted on SoundCloud.  Enjoy!

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Adaptive Yoga for those with
Multiple Sclerosis

Instructor Gail Pickens-Barger is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the Yoga Alliance, and is sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

She is certified at the 200-hour & 500-hour experience registered yoga teacher level and specializes in Adaptive Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis.
For more information, contact Gail Pickens-Barger at 409-727-3177

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#chairyogafitness

Port Arthur News Article – Yoga Brings Unlikely Yogis!

Port Arthur News Article – Yoga Brings Unlikely Yogis!


NEDERLAND — At the end of her class, Nederland yoga instructor Gail Pickens-Barger asks her students to meditate on how they are unique and “there is nobody like you in the universe.”

Her students suffer from multiple sclerosis, a chronic, unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system, and none of their symptoms are exactly the same.

Some of her students experience episodes of extreme numbness in their limbs.

“It is as if you put a giant foam block around your leg or foot,” Pickens-Barger said.

For some, the disease affects their balance or, in Crystal Chauvin’s case, a day-long jolt of electric pain down her cheek.

All of the students seem to share in one thing: The relief and relaxation of yoga.

“It helps me move better, helps me balance,” said Becky Dry, who has dealt with the disease for much of her life.

“The class helps us get through the day,” added Dry. “I’m ok now but tomorrow I may not.”

Approximately 400,000 Americans suffer from multiple sclerosis and every week 200 more people are diagnosed with the disease, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

There is no known cause or cure for MS. It is only fatal in extreme cases.

MS adaptive yoga is done in chairs for safety but, as Pickens-Barger points out, it can still make you sweat.

“Keep it between easy and ouch,” Pickens-Barger said during one of the stretches. “Far, far away from ouch.”

Pickens-Barger just got back from a two week long chair-yoga training in New York City, where she learned new techniques to allow her students to access the benefits of yoga without completely exhausting their bodies.

One of the biggest problems for people who suffer from MS is balance. Most of the students use a cane or a walker to get from one place to another.

The yoga techniques are designed to strengthen a person’s core muscles which help them balance whether they are sitting down or standing up.

Just as important as the benefits of the exercise and strength-building, is the sense of community and friendship the class brings to each other’s lives.

“It’s a support group also,” said Pickens-Barger.

The Lonestar National MS society sponsors the class as well as a 180-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin for cyclists living with multiple sclerosis.
The yoga classes take place every Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Nederland, and the local branch of the Multiple Sclerosis society meets the first Saturday of every month at 11 a.m. at the Medical Center in Port Arthur

bjanes@panews.com

Contact Gail at (409) 727-3177.  Please leave a voice message, if I am unable to get to your phone call.  I will return your call!