Yoga – a blend of physical exercise, breathing techniques and meditation techniques – is practiced around the world in more than 100 different styles. Among those who practice are many people with arthritis, who find that a gentle yoga practice can be easy on their joints, may reduce their symptoms and can promote relaxation. Evidence suggests that regular yoga practice can help reduce joint pain, improve flexibility and physical function, and lower stress and tension. Yoga may also help a person with arthritis build muscle strength and improve balance. Yoga teachers are more than willing to work with you to find pose variations and modifications to accommodate your arthritis. The Arthritis Resource Finder can help you locate a class in your area. The Arthritis Foundation also offers a yoga DVD created especially for people with arthritis.
Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but a few you may consider include:
*Use props such as blocks, folded blankets and straps to personalize your yoga practice and make it more comfortable.
*Poses can be modified by not going “deep” into the positions.
*Most yoga teachers are more than willing to work with you to find pose variations and modifications to accommodate your arthritis.
*Practice proper body alignment and equal weight distribution.
*Find a comfortable resting pose to go to if you are feeling pain or discomfort in your joints.
*Always practice yoga poses in your pain-free range.
*Listen to your body and be mindfully present in the moment as you practice. Do not try to keep up with classmates or have expectations of yourself.
*With regular practice, you will likely gain flexibility, strength and confidence in your yoga practice.