Does Yoga Help Arthritis?
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in northern India, composed of exercises that combine stretching, strength work, breath control, and meditation. For centuries, yoga has been utilized for its vast benefits, but did you know it may also help people with arthritis?
Arthritis encompasses a range of conditions that causes pain, inflammation, and joint stiffness. When joints become achy and inflamed due to arthritis, the key to improving joint function is strengthening and keeping the joints flexible. However, most exercise programs are too high-impact for those with arthritis, which is why yoga may be the perfect alternative.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga offers numerous benefits to both the mind and body, such as:
- Increased flexibility
- Enhanced balance
- Improved muscular strength
- Lower stress levels
- Boosted immune system
- Improved grip strength
- Reduced anxiety
- Increased energy
- Sharper mental clarity
Yoga may be especially valuable for people with arthritis, as it may reduce pain and inflammation associated with the condition. In addition, yoga is a low-impact exercise, meaning it is gentle on the joints.
There are several types of yoga, and different forms may be safer and more effective for people with arthritis. Some offer supportive props to aid balance, which can be especially useful for beginners and those with joint pain. In addition, most yoga programs are suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and qualified yoga instructors can help you modify certain poses to protect your joints.
Best Yoga Poses for Arthritis
If you have arthritis, you may want to avoid some yoga programs that require considerable balance or exercises that are faster-paced and more demanding. Instead, try some of these low-impact yoga poses*:
*Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any new form of exercise.
Standing Forward Fold
The forward fold is a pose that stretches your hamstrings and calves. To do a forward fold:
- Start by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hinge at the hips and fold forwards, keeping your spine long as you reach for your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, it’s okay to bend your knees and wrap your hands around your calves.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths, then slowly rise back to a standing position.
The Warrior I pose is a basic yoga pose optimal for strengthening the thighs, hips, hamstrings, and buttocks. To do Warrior I:
- From a standing position, step your right foot forward about four feet.
- Bend your right knee until it is at a 90-degree angle directly over your ankle.
- Keep your left leg straight and push your left thigh upward to activate your hamstrings.
- Reach your arms up over your head.
- Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds.
- Release and repeat on the other side.
The cobra pose is an exercise that helps improve flexibility and strength in the spine. It also helps open up the chest and lungs. To do a cobra pose:
- Lie on your stomach with your forehead resting on the floor.
- Place your hands on the floor beside your chest, with your elbows bent.
- Push up from the floor, using your hands and arms for support.
- Keep your hips on the floor and your pubic bone pulled up.
- Open your chest and look up at the ceiling.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
Extended Side Angle Pose
The extended side angle pose is an important pose to activate the hamstrings, hips, groin, and shoulders. To perform an extended side angle pose:
- Stand in Warrior I with your left leg bent over your left ankle and your right leg straight back.
- Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and your left foot at 45 degrees.
- Reach your arms out to the sides, and turn your palms up.
- Extend your right arm up toward the ceiling and lean to the left.
- Keep your back straight, and place your left elbow against your left knee.
- Hold for five breaths.
- Release and repeat on the other side.
The bridge pose is a gentle backbend that stretches and strengthens the spine, back, and gluteal muscles. To do bridge pose:
- Start by lying on your back on the floor.
- Bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor. Keep your heels close to your buttocks.
- Inhale, and lift your torso and upper legs into the air, forming a bridge shape with your body.
- Keep your head and neck relaxed.
- If comfortable, interlace your hands underneath your hips.
- Hold for a few seconds, then exhale and release the pose.
Beginner Side Plank
Beginner side plank is an exercise that can enhance wrist, arm, shoulder, and core strength and is a great exercise for people with arthritis. To complete a beginner side plank:
- Start in a table top pose with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart on the ground.
- Make sure that your shoulders are directly above your wrists and your hips are right above your knees.
- Shift your weight onto your left knee and left hand.
- Open your chest and step your right leg back and straighten it completely.
- With your left knee on the ground, reach your right arm towards the ceiling and turn your head to look up towards your fingertips.
- Hold for several breaths.
- Release and return to table top pose before switching to the other side.
A seated twist is a yoga pose that can help improve flexibility and motion in the spine. It can also help relieve tension and stress. To do a seated twist:
- Sit cross-legged on the floor facing forward.
- Twist your upper body to the right and reach your left hand to the outside of your right thigh.
- Keep your back straight, and your shoulders relaxed.
- Hold for a few deep breaths, then switch sides.
Get Help for Your Arthritis at Rejuvinix
If you or a loved one suffers from arthritis and yoga and other exercises have failed to relieve your pain, it may be time to contact Rejuvinix. At Rejuvinix, we offer non-surgical solutions to help restore your quality of life. Schedule your free consultation today to learn more.