There are many beginner yoga poses for arthritis that can help you control your arthritis symptoms. Yoga is easier than you might think. You do not have to use “pretzel-like ” poses to enjoy yoga. There are many beginner Hatha yoga classes available to you. Yoga is a flexible form of exercise and, with a trained instructor, can be adapted to your particular needs.
What The Science Says
- The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine states that “yoga incorporates several elements of exercise that may be beneficial for arthritis.’ There are not many studies that have looked at yoga poses for arthritis, but some have found that yoga can improve physical function and reduce swollen joints.
- A small study was conducted at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center on a group of women with RA. These women participated in Ivenger Yoga Classes for six weeks. All of the participants in the study experienced increases in their ability to function and an increase in energy levels.
- A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philaddephia believes that Ivenger Yoga classes build strength, improve flexibility, reduce joint pain and lower stress and tension which promotes better sleep. She also believes that yoga is more fun than many other types of exercise. Most people who practice yoga are more willing to continue to participate.
- There is hope that future studies will conclude that yoga also reduces inflammation. A researcher at Ohio State University found that the inflammatory markers in the blood of 50 healthy women ( without RA) were reduced after practicing basic Hatha yoga poses.
- A study of 47 women at the Dubai Bone and Joint Center participated in 12 yoga sessions. Twenty six of the 47 women experienced significant improvements in measures of disease activity.
- Another study in India was conducted on 64 men and women with RA. They participated in a week-long intensive yoga class. All participants showed reduced disability scores on a health assessment questionnaire and reduced RA factors.
There are all small studies, but study participants seen to be getting relief from some of their symptoms of RA.
What Types of Yoga Are Recommended for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There are many types of yoga. Some are very vigorous and not appropriate for people with RA, but many types of yoga can be modified to accommodate your personal physical needs. Yoga is a low impact exercise that may work well for you.
- Hatha Yoga: Hatha is a generic term that encompasses any form of yoga that teaches physical poses. Most yoga classes in the US are Hatha yoga classes. You will get a gentle introduction to yoga poses. It combines postures and breathing and focuses on strengthening.
Gentle Yoga focuses on breathing, relaxing and working with the joints. This is a good class to begin practicing yoga if you have RA limitations.
Hatha Star focuses on the mechanics of the yoga poses. Beginners and experienced yoga practitioners are both welcome is HathaStar classes.
Hatha and Meditation uses breathing and poses together to relax tensions and reduce stress. There is a long meditation period at the end of each class.
- Iyengar Yoga: This is a special Hatha yoga practice begun by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1975. It focuses on the physical alignment of the body in each pose. Props are often uses to assist students in accomplishing perfect alignment in the poses. Props consist of blankets, blocks, straps, pillows, chairs and bolsters. The Iyeugar theory is that, with help from props and with practice, students can eventually achieve perfect poses. The balance this creates in the body will be reflected in the mind. There is not much flow between poses in this form of yoga, but the concentration on perfect poses improves balance and strength. Iyengar Yoga has been used in several small studies done with RA that are summarized above.
- Anusara Yoga: The focus is on creating an uplifting experience for every student by looking for the goodness in each student. A set of universal bio-mechanical alignment principles are used. Movements in every pose are coordinated with breath. There are 250 poses in Anusara yoga. Props are often used. Students of every level of experience are welcome. Students with special therapeutic needs are also welcome.
If you are interested in pursuing yoga, there are some safety tips you should be aware of so you do not injure your joints. We will discuss those tips next week.
Do let me know if you have questions. We would all like to hear about your experience with yoga.