Complementary Corner: Yoga

An Introduction to Yoga: An RLS Coping Strategy with Many Health Benefits This is an excerpt from the summer 2017 edition of NightWal...

An Introduction to Yoga: An RLS Coping Strategy with Many Health Benefits

This is an excerpt from the summer 2017 edition of NightWalkers, the Foundation's quarterly magazine. To get your subscription to NightWalkers and to enjoy other benefits, become a member of the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation today!

In 2016, a study conducted by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance found that 36.7 million Americans practice yoga – an 80 percent increase from 2012. Of these individuals, 74 percent have been practicing for five years or less (1). Yoga is an ancient discipline that focuses on meditation, concentrated breathing and body postures. The health benefits of yoga are many. A sustained practice can lead to lower blood pressure, improved lung capacity, relief from chronic neck and back pain, and decreased anxiety.

For those with RLS, stretching can be an important tool in alleviating symptoms. Many RLS patients find that 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise per day can help keep their RLS at bay. (Note: Avoid intense exercising before bedtime, as that has been known to exacerbate RLS symptoms.) (2) Yoga incorporates both stretching and exercise, and can be a valuable coping strategy to add to one's RLS tool kit.

Yoga has increased in popularity in recent years, making it more accessible than ever. There are now YouTube channels (the above channel, Yoga with Adriene, is just one option of many to choose from) dedicated to providing free online classes – a cheaper and convenient alternative for those with busy lifestyles and a limited budget. However, for the beginner, it is a good idea to initially attend a few in-person classes. This will give you a feel for how you should approach your home practice, and ensure that you are doing the poses properly to avoid injury. Remember to always listen to your body. Everyone is unique and may react differently to various types of stretching. Be particularly careful if you have a chronic condition or injury. You should always consult with your physician before beginning a new fitness regimen, including yoga.

Each individual’s practice is as unique as the person, and can be altered to fit their needs and wants – therein lies the beauty of yoga. Thus, many yogis end their practices with a calming word: "Namaste" – “The light in me acknowledges the light in you.”

For more lifestyle considerations for your RLS, visit our website.


1. Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance. January 2016. “2016 Yoga in America Study.”

2. Aukerman MM, et al., 2006. “Exercise and restless legs syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.” J Am Board Fam Med. 19(5): 487–93

You Might Also Like


Flickr Images