The Life Experiences of People with Multiple Sclerosis Who Practice Yoga


Ada-Reva Franklin.
The Life Experiences of People with Multiple
Sclerosis Who Practice Yoga. Master's thesis.
Clarkson College, Department of Nursing, 2001.
126 pages. Author's email:
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects more than 300,000 people in this country. There are a variety of therapies available for this illness, both mainstream and alternative. Yoga asanas, breathing exercises, and meditation are increasingly recognized, even among mainstream therapists, as effective treatment tools. As the title indicates, this thesis presents a formal study of the "life experiences" of two practicing yogis (named GS and SR) with MS. The investigator, Ada-Reva Franklin, is a nurse and Kripalu-certified Yoga instructor, and a member of YREC/IAYT.

The study is divided into four chapters. The first provides an overview of the work, including its purpose, rationale, methodology, and theoretical framework, definitions of terms like multiple sclerosis, Yoga, and life experience, and the investigator's preparation and assumptions. The second chapter surveys literature relating to MS and alternative therapies, quality of life, physical activity and fatigue, and the therapeutic use of Yoga and meditation. The literature on this last subject is quite sparse--actually only one study exists that focuses directly on Yoga and MS--but it seems to suggest that Yoga has a number of positive effects on students with MS, including decreased stress, an increased sense of well-being and calmness, and improved self-esteem. In chapter 3 the investigator describes the methods she used to select the study's participants, how she collected and analyzed her data, and how she verified the trustworthiness of her data.

Chapter 4 then summarizes the study's findings, the relevance of these findings to literature, and the implications the study has for the nursing profession and future research. The post-MS life experiences of the two participants are thoroughly explored, including their life philosophies, shifts in personality styles and life focus, life "motivators," their use of other alternative methods of self-care and medical treatment, and their physical and spiritual awareness. As a Yoga teacher, I would have liked more specific information on the participant's Yoga program--how often and how long they practiced, what particular asanas and breathing exercises they found helpful--but perhaps this information is not necessary or appropriate in a study of this type. Certainly, however, this study as it stands is an important contribution to the growing field of Yoga therapy, especially as it applies to MS.


Reviewed by Richard Rosen

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