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How Yin Yoga Helped Me Find Stability, Relief, and Ease in Life with MS

Living Well

February 26, 2024

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Photography by Lightsy/Getty Images

Photography by Lightsy/Getty Images

by Monica Lynne


Medically Reviewed by:

Courtney Sullivan, Certified Yoga Instructor


by Monica Lynne


Medically Reviewed by:

Courtney Sullivan, Certified Yoga Instructor


I tried numerous yoga styles, classes, and studios, but Yin helped me find stillness, patience, and profound relaxation.

In my 2-decade journey with multiple sclerosis (MS), I’ve grappled with symptoms like spasticity, fatigue, anxiety, and mobility issues. Over time, they’ve become more pronounced and bothersome.

As I sought support beyond my medications and attempted to take some sort of control over my condition, I began looking for cost-effective therapies to alleviate these chronic companions, my MS symptoms.

One practice that has gained immense popularity, both in the general population and among people with MS, is yoga.

Yoga is a valuable tool in managing MS-related challenges such as pain, fatigue, and mobility issues.

Yoga’s emphasis on postural balance contributes to enhanced stability, and its capacity to combat fatigue, depression, and paresthesia (the sensation of pins and needles) can significantly improve quality of life and mental health.

It has even been found to improve sexual health and neurogenic bladder dysfunction, which are particularly challenging for many women with MS. I knew I had to try it.

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An ancient tradition with many styles

Yoga has origins in India and a rich history spanning over 5,000 years. Over the millennia, the practice has evolved significantly, giving rise to numerous styles and philosophies.

Not knowing where to begin, I tried different styles, classes, studios, apps, and videos until I figured out what worked best for me. My odyssey included lots of success stories and embarrassing, helpless moments before I discovered the profound impact of Yin yoga practice on my life.

One of the first things I learned was that yoga practice goes beyond merely holding a pose; it involves the integration of breath, posture, movement, and mindfulness to attain relaxation, heightened body awareness, and potentially other advantages such as better focus and greater physical stability.

Each style emphasizes different things:

  • Hatha yoga, the first stop on my journey, laid the groundwork by offering me a solid understanding of fundamental postures and alignment principles. It prioritized strength and balance, which are pivotal for someone with MS.
  • Vinyasa yoga, with its dynamic, flowing sequences coordinated with controlled breathing, significantly enhanced my cardiovascular fitness and heightened my energy levels.

These two types of yoga were fun and challenging ─ I did these in a class setting, but it was disappointing when on some days, I couldn’t keep my balance or keep up in a sequence with the class. Challenges surfaced as I explored other yoga styles, too.

  • Bikram yoga, practiced in a heated room, posed difficulties due to extreme temperatures, often depleting my energy and causing me fatigue for the rest of the day.
  • Ashtanga yoga, known for its demanding series of poses, offered a rigorous physical practice but occasionally led to overexertion, heightened my MS symptoms, and led me to bed for the rest of the day.
  • Yin yoga, which emphasizes stillness, patience, and deep relaxation, was the last style I tried in my exploration of a wellness routine that I could enjoy and realistically commit to. It emerged as my favorite practice, thanks to both the serenity and the physical release it offers.
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What is Yin yoga?

Yin yoga is a slow-paced, meditative form of yoga. In contrast to the emphasis on muscular strength and active movement in other styles, Yin focuses on holding postures for an extended time, typically ranging from 2–5 minutes or even longer.

It targets tendons (which connect muscles to bones), ligaments (which connect bones to each other), and fascia (which surrounds your muscles, rather than muscles themselves) to promote greater flexibility in movement.

The practice is rooted in Taoist philosophy, emphasizing finding stillness in each pose and allowing the body to open up gradually and release tension. For this reason, Yin yoga often encourages using the support of props like bolsters and blocks.

Why Yin yoga is my favorite

Yin yoga has a special place in my heart, and here’s why:

Pain relief

Yin yoga’s long holds gently stretch and release tension in my muscles and connective tissues, providing much-needed relief from occasional pain, stiffness, and spasticity. Taking my body just a bit beyond its comfort zone to the edge of a stretch ─ just before it feels painful ─ helps me move more freely in my skin, expanding my range of motion.

It’s almost like making friends with gravity, using it to help me stretch deeply without hurting myself.

In fact, MS experts often recommend stretching muscles to their full length each day to help manage spasticity. I’ve found my usual nightly spasticity decreases, and my walking seems to be more stable when I practice Yin yoga regularly.

Mindful awareness

Yin yoga encourages a profound sense of mindfulness. Holding poses for extended periods allows me to become acutely aware of the sensations in my body, helping me identify areas of tension and discomfort.

This heightened awareness has been invaluable in managing my MS symptoms. I’ve become more attuned to measuring my levels of fatigue, and I consistently notice when my muscles are particularly tight.

Instead of pushing through discomfort, I now take proactive steps to address and relieve it.

According to the National MS Society, many people also find yoga’s calming effects to be instrumental in coping with the distinctive hurdles that accompany MS, like enduring prolonged MRI sessions, facing injections or infusions, maintaining composure during exacerbations, and maintaining concentration during consultations with healthcare providers.

Deep relaxation

The slow pace and emphasis on relaxation make Yin yoga a perfect antidote to stress, which is a common trigger for MS exacerbation.

For me, the practice has become a sanctuary where I can unwind and find tranquility. It’s helped me manage my anxiety and find stability in my moods on a daily basis, and it has helped me achieve better, deeper sleep, especially when I practice before bedtime.


With my MS symptoms fluctuating from day to day, I needed a yoga practice that would accommodate my varying energy levels and physical abilities.

Yin’s gentle and adaptable nature fits perfectly since it requires sitting and lying in passive poses. Because it’s available to people at any fitness level, I also felt comfortable practicing alone in my personal space.

And since I’m a frequent traveler whose space changes regularly, this practice made sense for me since I could do it anywhere at any time.

Emotional support

Living with a chronic condition like MS can be emotionally challenging. Yin yoga has improved my physical health and served as a source of emotional support. With consistent practice, Yin yoga helps me control my breathing and clear my mind with ease, helping me navigate the emotional ups and downs that come with the territory.

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The takeaway

Yin yoga offers an accessible path to healing and self-discovery. Its gentle approach makes it suitable for individuals with conditions like MS, providing an opportunity to find relief, manage symptoms, and improve overall well-being.

While my journey with yoga has introduced me to various styles, Yin is my hands-down favorite, offering a tranquil haven where I find comfort, strength, and peace along the way.

Medically reviewed on February 26, 2024

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About the author

Monica Lynne

As a digital nomad with multiple sclerosis, Monica Lynne travels the world managing her condition and working remotely as a copywriter and language interpreter. She focuses on social media management and influencer marketing with Miami-based boutique PR agency, JLPR. With degrees in theater, dance, and communication studies from Nova Southeastern University, she has a presence in South Florida’s arts & culture community as an actor and content creator.

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