It’s National Arthritis Week, and we know that Arthritis can have a significant impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as physical symptoms such as joint damage and pain.
Yoga is proven to help people with arthritis improve many physical symptoms like pain and stiffness, and psychological issues like stress and anxiety. People with various types of arthritis who practice yoga regularly can reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and function, and lower stress and tension to promote better sleep.
The Benefits of Yoga for Arthritis
Subhadra Evans, PhD, a researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center conducted a small study of the effects of six weeks of Iyengar yoga on a group of women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Evans was impressed by strong results showing yoga’s immediate, positive impact on people with a serious chronic disease.
Pariticpant in that study said that the day-to-day levels of pain hadn’t changed, but their relationship to the pain had changed. They were able to get through daily activities much more effectively, and had much more energy. Some are noted as saying I think if we had had them do yoga longer, we may have seen more significant changes in pain and other symptoms.
Yoga is gentle enough for most people to do every day, says Dr. Kolasinski. Yoga classes or private instruction can be expensive, but you can practice a yoga routine on your own at home, with one of our guided practices.
Some yoga poses may need to be modified for people with arthritis. Downward facing dog, for example, involves kneeling on the floor and raising your body with your arms, so feel free to use a chair, a block, a strap or other aids to help maintain balance during some poses. It’s your practice so you can do it your way!
Sun Salutations are a great way to start your day, as well as leading to improved flexibility and stretching of the spine.
Bālāsana (Child’s Pose)
Get into the pose by dropping down onto your knees, spread your knees wide and bring your big toes together. Sit your hips back onto your feet or heels and reach your arms forward onto the ground, or leave them resting with your palms upwards and stretched behind you.
Child’s pose is really restorative and a great way to stretch the spine.
Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Cat-Cow Pose)
This is a great way to wake up the spine and hips
Start in a neutral spine position, with your knees and hands stacked directly underneath your hips and shoulders, fingers spread wide.
Bring your chest forward, up toward the ceiling, as your shoulder blades press down toward your waist, drop your stomach and tip your pelvis up and back so that your sitting bones are reaching up, while breathing in, then as you breath out pull your navel in and up to round out your spine, arching away from the ground.
Gentle twisting should be beneficial, however if you experience any pain, listen to your body and ease out of the pose.
. Lie on your back, draw your knees toward your chest, and wrap your arms around your legs, then release your knees, placing your arm in a T-Formation. Then, start turning your knees so they rest near your elbow, before looking over your shoulder n the opposite direction. Stay here for 5 breaths, then slowly return your knees to center and twist to the other side.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
A staple of the sun salutation practice and probably the most commonly known phrase in Yoga. Downward dog is great for waking up muscles and warming them up. Remember, you can keep your knees bent if you need and if your heels don’t reach the mat, that’s okay. Every body is different, so be sure to listen to yours.
Start on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your palms and turn your toes under. Next, exhale and push your knees away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis, like it’s being pulled up by a string and lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling. You can move your knees back and forth initially to warm up the muscles, and take a few breaths in this pose.
We hope these poses help and please do contact us and our teachers any time if you’re concerned about your practice. We are here to guide you through your practice whenever you need.