Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis: Maintaining engagement in physical activity

Jenni Naisby*, Gemma Wilson-Menzfeld, Katherine Baker, Rosie Morris, Jonathan Robinson, Gill Barry

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Physical activity is encouraged for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Yoga is a popular form of physical activity and is chosen by some people with Multiple Sclerosis. However, little is known about the impact of yoga for this population, alongside what influences ongoing engagement. Aim: The aim of this study is to qualitatively explore the impact of online home-based yoga on people with Multiple Sclerosis and to explore factors that influence engagement. Methods: A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews and focus groups with people with Multiple Sclerosis and a yoga teacher. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Ethical Approval was gained from Northumbria University. Findings: Three overarching themes emerged from the analysis. ‘Yoga as engagement in physical activity’ captured the reasoning for participating in yoga and how this method of physical activity was an alternative to physical activity done prior to diagnosis. Frustration was apparent within this theme that some individuals were unable to engage in the range of physical activity that they wished to. ‘Yoga is a personalised approach’ demonstrated the flexibility and inclusivity of yoga, for individuals with varying symptoms to be able to engage with. Finally, ‘yoga impacts individuals both physically and psychologically’ captured the focus on the psychological impact of yoga, improving wellbeing and control. Conclusions: Yoga gives people with Multiple Sclerosis the feeling of control over their symptoms and a means to engage with meaningful physical activity. Prior involvement in physical activity influenced engagement in yoga and wanting to push themselves. There was reluctance among this group to engage with aerobic activity, which warrants future investigation and support from health and exercise professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0288319
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2023

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