“It’s in your hands – take action.”
This is the theme for this year’s World Arthritis Day. And what better way to take action than with yoga?
These yoga for arthritis tips can help you gain greater mobility and autonomy, without stressing your joints or creating excess inflammation.
But first, let’s explore what arthritis is and how yoga can help.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis and it can affect any joint in the body.
Typical symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Did you know that approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis?
What may surprise many is that not only are both men and women affected by arthritis, but a large number of children and adolescents are also afflicted.
In the United States alone, over a quarter million children have arthritis!
Arthritis is not only painful but can also cause disability. And because it can affect any joint in the body, there are many ways that this condition can manifest itself.
For many people, arthritis pulls them into a funk, both physically and mentally. They believe their condition will continue to worsen, with no respite in sight.
World Arthritis Day can bring hope to millions of people by educating both those who have arthritis and their caregivers that movement, especially yoga and tai chi, can be very helpful.
Can arthritis be reversed with exercise?
Arthritis is typically a long-term chronic condition. And while there’s no single cure for arthritis, there are many lifestyle changes surrounding diet and exercise that can drastically improve the chronic pain associated with arthritis.
How Can Yoga Help Arthritis?
Low-impact exercises like yoga, pilates, tai chi, and swimming can all drastically improve a body struggling with arthritis.
Yoga in particular is a helpful form of exercise, as it also has a host of psychological benefits.
Scientific research shows that yoga helps relieve tender, swollen joints and inflammation caused by arthritis. And yoga also helps to improve mobility and mental health.
But not all yoga practices are advisable for those with arthritis and limited mobility.
Is yoga safe for arthritis?
Is it safe to practice yoga when you struggle with a chronic health condition like arthritis?
Well — that depends.
Generally speaking, yoga is recommended as a safe form of exercise for those with arthritis.
In fact, it’s recommended by the Arthritis Foundation, as it is gentle enough to be practiced on a daily basis.
That said, not all forms of yoga are created equal. And some forms are safer than others.
What Type Of Yoga Is Best For Arthritis?
Vigorous forms of yoga are not well advised for those who struggle with arthritis.
Ashtanga, or power yoga, is not suitable for those with chronic pain. That’s because ashtanga yoga typically moves at a brisk pace and incorporates a number of poses that put the body in compromising or challenging positions.
Instead, look for Iyengar yoga, a form of yoga that makes use of aids like straps, chairs, and yoga blocks to gently move the body into proper alignment.
Especially when first starting out, it is wise to find a yoga teacher or yoga therapist who is knowledgeable about arthritis.
Take your time to find a practice that works for you. You know your body best.
7 simple yoga for arthritis tips
If you’re looking to explore yoga’s benefits for arthritis, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Speak to your doctor. Check with your doctor before starting yoga or any physical activity.
- Don’t hold your breath! Keep breathing. Emphasize your exhalation to help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Be aware of your posture. Stand tall and relaxed. Poor posture can make arthritis worse by putting unnecessary strain on the joints.
- Move at your own pace. You may need to start very slowly at first. As you feel more relief and get stronger you may be able to do more challenging yoga poses.
- Use aids. Don’t be afraid to use a chair or stand near a wall if balance is an issue for you.
- Be consistent. Do a little bit every day. Consistency is more important than practicing for a long time every so often.
- Work on your attitude. How you feel is everything! Approach your practice with a beginner’s mind and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
So, “take action” with a deep breath, stand tall, and strike a yoga pose knowing that “It’s in your hands.”
Does someone you know struggle with arthritis? Tell us in the comments below!