Yoga has long been praised as a stress reducing exercise that promotes a sense of calmness and improves quality of life. A regular yoga practice can lead to overall benefits for those with arthritic conditions by increasing muscle strength, improving flexibility and promoting balance of mind and body.
In 2013, Elsevier B.V. published the results of a survey of 1045 yoga practitioners concluding that yoga can have a positive impact on those with chronic health conditions. Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that yoga had an overall impact on their energy levels and their health.
If you suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and are considering yoga here are a few things to keep in mind before and during your practice:
- Check with your physician to make sure that starting a yoga practice is right for you and your condition. Your doctor will be able to advise on any restrictions that you should observe. Before your first class be sure to arrive early and communicate those restrictions to the instructor.
- Find the studio or teacher that best suits your needs. It could be a studio that focuses on therapeutic yoga or one that has a variety of restorative and yoga nidra classes. Steer clear of hot or flow yoga styles as these can increase internal heat, pressure and inflammation.
- Start out slow and take a gentle approach to your practice. Every day is a new journey in yoga and your body may feel differently during each class. As you learn and progress you will gradually increase movement and flexibility.
- Modify your practice as needed. Honor your body by recognizing limitations and adapting the exercises to meet your body type and condition. Yoga is a forgiving exercise that allows you to adjust your movements throughout you practice.
Yogi Cure for Common Diseases author, Dr. Phulgenda Sinha says that yoga can eliminate the need for pain management medications within just a few weeks of regular practice. As a new yogi, remember that patience, balance and flexibility of the mind and body will help you along your way. Stay true to yourself and your journey, and you will soon reap the restorative benefits of this ancient practice.
Below is a video with a sequence of asanas specially designed for yogis with arthritis:
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