The following are classic yoga poses that Eric Small, under the guidance of B.K.S. Iyengar, adapted for people with disabilities caused by MS. Many of these postures would also be appropriate for the elderly or for people suffering from other conditions, such as arthritis. The benefits listed are those traditionally ascribed to the poses.

     Practice the poses at your own pace, never forcing or straining. Remember that the goal is to enjoy the practice, not to achieve a particular posture. Hold each pose for 10 to 20 long, deep breaths, then release and move with awareness to the next posture.


Basic Breathing

1) Before beginning your practice, sit quietly, spine away from your chair, feet planted firmly on the floor directly beneath the knees. If necessary, use a rolled blanket behind the back to support the spine in an upright position. If you’re short, you may want to place a blanket on the floor to raise your feet until your upper and lower legs form a right angle. If you’re tall, a blanket on the chair seat will bring you to the proper alignment.

     Sit up straight, with your face tilted down, and breathe evenly and naturally through your nostrils. Do not force your breath. Sit quietly and listen to your breathing for at least two minutes. This process releases and relaxes the nervous system, allowing it to become receptive to the asanas.

    Downward-Facing Dog Pose

2) Downward-Facing Dog relieves fatigue, improves circulation, and brings fresh blood to the brain. This is a good posture to begin with for those who are mobile but have balance problems and for those who are weak in the arms or legs.

     Stand with your back to the wall with a chair in front of you, turned so the seat faces away from the wall. Fold a sticky mat into quarters, place it on top of the chair back, and cover it with one or two blankets. With your heels against the wall, bend at the hips and put your hands on the chair seat. Place the bottom of your pelvis, below the navel, onto the padded chair back. Deepening the bend at the hips, rest your chest on the chair seat, your hands on the floor. Your feet may go up the wall or be elevated on blocks, depending on your height and flexibility.


    Wheelchair Variation
3) Sitting six to nine inches away from the wall, lean forward and place your hands up onto the wall, with your fingers spread. If possible, bend your legs. If you are short you may be more comfortable with blocks under your feet.

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