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Yoga for Arthritis - How Can Yoga Help You Deal with Arthritis

Written by: marlonborreo

Yoga for Arthritis Feeling stiff on your back? Having pain in your knees and wrists perhaps? You are then most likely suffering from arthritis, a disease which causes inflammation or swelling of the joints. Arthritis is among the more common diseases in the world. It affects 40% of Americans aged 45 to 64 and 60% of those aged 65 and older.

Popular belief holds that arthritis is a sickness of the aged. But while age does increase the risk and vulnerability of people to arthritis, even children, teenagers, and young adults can have it. Cases of arthritis among children are generally termed as Juvenile Arthritis.

Arthritis is actually a term used to refer to a group of more than 100 diseases with a common factor: inflammation of the joints. The common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (which is the most common), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, and Fibromyalgia.

Arthritis results from the deterioration of soft tissues that cover and protect the joints. When this happens, the bones rub against each other, which is painful. While doctors are still on the process of determining what exactly causes arthritis, many believe that the deterioration may be caused by the pressure of gravity on the joints - the wear and tear of life, so to speak. Also, obesity and heredity contribute to deterioration.

Apparently, gender may be a factor. Composing 80% of osteoarthritis cases in the US, women are much more prone to osteoarthritis. For gout, however, nearly all those suffering from it are men (90%).

There may be a lifestyle factor that may explain why it is mostly men who contract gout. This is caused by excess uric acid that gets deposited in the joints. Interestingly, uric acid levels are higher for people who drink too much alcohol, as it interferes with the process of getting rid of excess uric acid.

Whatever the case may be, arthritis appears to be correlated with poor bone and muscle health, disproportionate body weight, and unhealthy lifestyle.

With Yoga, these aspects of a person's physique and life can be greatly enhanced. Yoga Poses can help strengthen your joints which is crucial in preventing and dealing with arthritis. It makes your joints function normally, thus reducing the risk of stiffness. With its virtue of balance, Yoga practice helps regulate the levels of uric acid in the body. Obesity may also be avoided through the practice. More importantly, Yoga can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle that can enhance your resistance not only from arthritis but to other sicknesses as well.

Here are the basic Asanas which can help you in dealing with Arthritis:

Seated Poses - Easy Pose (Sukhasana) Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
This is one of the classic Meditative Poses and is usually performed after doing the Corpse Pose. The Easy Pose helps in straightening the spine, slowing down metabolism, promoting inner tranquility, and keeping your mind still.

Supine Poses - Single Leg Raises Single Leg Raises
This Yoga Pose is performed in order to prepare the body for other exercises. It benefits the legs, lower back muscles, and abdominal area. In practicing the Single Leg Raise, one leg is raised while the other one stays on the floor.

Warm-Up Poses - Shoulder Stretches Shoulder Stretches
Shoulder Stretches are great in relieving stress and tension on your shoulders, as well as your entire upper back. Practice them daily for several weeks and notice the changes. Learn some basic stretches for the shoulders in this section.

Warm-Up Poses - Neck Exercises Neck Exercises
Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture, and tension headaches. Yoga practice can ease tension, increase flexibility, and tone the muscles. Learn some Neck Exercises in this section.

Standing Poses - Standing Side Stretch Pose Standing Side Stretch Pose
The Standing Side Stretch is another Yoga Pose with two lines of energy radiating outward from your center. This is a simple Yoga Posture with a wonderful stretch in which one line of energy reaches upward from your belly and outward through the arm, and one line travels downward through the legs.

Seated Poses - Hand Clenching Hand Clenching
Hands and wrists are common body parts which are affected by Arthritis, especially Osteoarthritis. Take good care of your hands and joints and always keep them in 'good working condition' by performing the Hand Clenching Exercise.

Seated Poses - Wrist Bending Wrist Bending
Your wrists can also be affected by arthritis, specifically Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Take good care of your wrists through stretching and bending. Learn how to improve the range of motion of your wrists by doing the Wrist Bending Exercise.

Yoga Exercise - Final Corpse Yoga Exercise - Final Corpse
For you to appreciate the benefits of relaxation, you should first be familiar on how it is to be tense. This is what happens when you do the Final Corpse. Everything related to that position including suggestions on how to do it is discussed in further detail in this article.

Seated Poses - Ankle Bending Ankle Bending
repeated strain or sprain in the ankles can contribute to the occurrence of Ankle Arthritis. Manage stress and keep your ankles in good condition through therapy, having enough rest, and by doing the Ankle Bending Exercise.

Seated Poses - Ankle Rotation Ankle Rotation
Pay attention to your ankles to avoid muscle or tendon strain due to too much training. Perform the Ankle Rotation Exercise and make your ankles more flexible. This is also ideal for people who are suffering from arthritis.

Relaxation Yoga Pose Relaxation Pose
The first step in Yoga practice is to learn how to relax your body and mind. In this section, know why relaxation is essential in practicing Yoga and learn how to do the Corpse Pose and other techniques for physical, mental, as well as spiritual relaxation.

Why don't you give these Yoga Poses a try? They might be really helpful in dealing with Arthritis. Just take note that not all poses are advisable to be practiced by people with Arthritis. It may depend on their health condition and their ability to do certain poses. It would be better to consult a physician first or do the poses under the supervision of a Yoga instructor.

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Article Comments
Thursday 23rd July 2009 at 7:39:21 AM  

Id been in a yoga class for several years,for back problems.It was of GREAT help ! Ive dropped out of regular classes for awhile,but Im still doing some yoga stretches and exercises on my owm,which also has been of help .I hope to get back to my regular class to help with arthritic knees .

Monday 7th September 2009 at 11:42:07 PM  

I have been suffering from serum negative arthritis for the last five years. I have not yet been cured though i tried different fields of medicines. Yoga helps me to lead the life, managing the pain.

Saturday 6th March 2010 at 1:41:10 PM  

I do some of the exercises after my slip disc & it helped me to permanently cure it for ever.

Thursday 25th March 2010 at 10:27:28 AM  

I am a 49 yr old man, average hight weight build etc. I have practiced yoga, power yoga for several years. I wouldn''t say I am dedicated I just enjoy the physical aspect. I started practicing yoga to help with lower back and knee pain that I think was due to pounding on the treadmill. If I am honest the knee pain disappeard but the back pain never really did. Over the years it has been fairly constant but I also developed pain in my elbows. Together these were beginning to affect my life in many ways. My GP sent me for an xray and an examination by an orthopeidic surgeon. The good news is nothing was found to be wrong and he recommended I continue to practice but the pain remained. However after a short illness which stopped me practicing the pain went away. I prided myself on practicing correctly following instructions on DVD''s to the letter but I am convinced yoga, or at least some postures are responsible. I think the Downward Facing Dog is the cause of my elbow pain but I am not sure which posture or postures are responsible for the back pain, twists or bends. I would like to start practicing again and would appreciate any guidance you can give.
Kind Regards

Sunday 12th September 2010 at 3:52:14 PM  

Where can I find "Yoga for Arthritis" classes, in my area. Queens, New York . I would appreciate any info, and assistance you can give me.

Carole Heath
Wednesday 22nd September 2010 at 10:13:13 AM  

I suffered a bad fall injuring my back at Xmas last year on the ice when the weather was bad, my back seemed ok after awhile but about a month after the fall i bent down to pick something up and my back just went and i was unable to stand up straight and in terrible pain in my lower back my doctor said i had pulled a muscle in my lower back. Unfortunately when carrying heavy shopping the problem returned, my friend had started a Yoga class at a local sports centre for the over 50''s and i decided to go as well. Since starting this class i have had no back pain etc and the meditiation which the tutor also does us is very good for deep relaxation. I am going to contiue with Yoga it really has helped me so much not just for my back problem but also for my mental well-being which is needed i think in today''s fast pace of life.

Lois Munchel
Saturday 27th November 2010 at 4:33:02 PM  

I can not do any exercises from the floor. Can I do those that are shown to be down on floor on my bed. Will it work as well?
Thank you

Pam Kugel
Friday 21st January 2011 at 11:37:13 AM  

I have never done yoga, but I am needing an exercise I can do. I have Osteoarthritis in my hands shoulders, knees, feet and ankles, and I think my neck. I also have had a joint replacement in my left thumb. I have nacrotic bone in my left knee and the doc said I can''t walk long distances or run or deep knee bend. I have nacrotic bone in the tarsas bone and tibia end in my right ankle and plantar faciaitis in both feet. I need advice for exercises for these problems. I am also 50 lbs over weight but I can''t lose with just diet alone. I am middle aged.

Workout Routines
Sunday 30th January 2011 at 11:04:40 AM  

Yoga for arthritis can be helpful but at no point get involved in power yoga.

Power yoga teachers at times may not know your arthritis condition and prescribe strenuous yoga exercises. Make sure you do light yoga and not power yoga which might hurt you rather than help you.

BS Rao
Saturday 12th February 2011 at 7:53:31 AM  

I am suffering from knee & back pain.Rheumatoid factor is positive.I am keen to practise Yoga exercises,but unable to sit cross legged or squat on floor?Can you please advise any different solution?

nick cicero
Monday 14th March 2011 at 10:44:17 AM  

i get pain in my hip sockets when i walk to much over 45 minutes i also get it when i do lunges and triangle over 5 breaths. lunges i cant do at all but triangle i can do three to five breaths it is a pain that travles from my hip socket to my torn acl then to my torn achilles tendon a bad yoga instructure adjusted me unproperly and caused that to happen and eventually it lead to arthritis in my hip sockets my question is what poses should i stay away from and what can i do for it

Terina Plyler
Wednesday 27th April 2011 at 2:21:00 PM  

I''ve been practicing YOGA for 10 years and making sure to eat a healthy diet for the past 7. I''m 5''2" and 120 pounds. Still... pain in my hips and knees forced me to go to the doc and I got a diagnosis of Arthritis! I''m only 35! Don''t think that Arthritis only happens to people who don''t take care of themselves. However, now I''m going to increase my daily yoga routine to help counter the effects and take supplements to help my joints.

Monday 22nd August 2011 at 11:21:33 AM  

I suffer with knee and shoulder pain. I have had surgery in one and now the other needs it. I now know that moving around makes a big difference. Thank you for this info.

Sunny Nelson
Monday 7th November 2011 at 10:14:22 AM  

Hi :) I have severe R.A. and mild scholiosis. I had my methotrexate injection this morning for the R.A. and got home for my first Yoga Class. I live in a senior community and our Yoga is called "chair Yoga." The first thing we learned was: the teacher, or our minds don''t tell us what to do, our bodies tell us ! So I just relaxed and did the exercises within my limitations :)

Monday 14th November 2011 at 2:50:28 PM  

I am currently training to be a yoga teacher and I also suffer from arthritis. A good instructor will always ask their students about injuries and limitations and offer modifications to those students in class. If your instructor does not do this find another instructor and studio!! Gentle yoga is the best way to start. Work up to Level 1 and higher as your flexibility increases.

Thursday 12th January 2012 at 8:38:17 PM  

Is there a particular beginners tape/video/cd that you can recommend?

Monday 30th January 2012 at 7:04:25 AM  

To Trevor: I am a professionally trained dancer, movement analysis specialist, trained yoga instructor as well. In response to your post, I believe that you are correct. Its likely that the yoga postures exacerbated the elbow and back pain. This doesn''t mean that you need to quit practicing, though it was good that you did have a break to identify the issue. What needs to happen, your postures even though thought to be done "correctly" doesn''t mean they were correct for your body. There is no such thing as the "perfect pose" that is universal for everyone. Your poses should look different than the people practicing next to you. In other words, if we all practice the pose to look one way, we will all feel it different, may harm ourselves, and not benefit from the intention of the pose. Then the point of the pose is missed and injury risked. Instead, gentleness must be practiced unto oneself as well as knowledge of your personal anatomical anomalies and asymmetries. This takes a very specialized yoga instructor and a practitioner that constantly focuses on love towards their body.

Saturday 4th February 2012 at 12:46:08 PM  

I have osteoarthritis in my hip and like yoga a lot. I would like to recommend a book (I am in no way associated with this book) called ''Yoga for Arthritis: The Complete Guide'' by Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall. Each joint that may be affected has its own section of exercises plus a very detailed discussion of arthritis.

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