The ancient Indian practice of yoga has been gaining momentum in popular culture. Many young women (and men!) have been flocking to classes of all kinds — hatha yoga, aerial yoga, power yoga, hot yoga, etc. — to experience the ancient art of meditation and balance.
You know that yoga can assist with stress relief and relaxation, but did you know that it can relieve pain as well, more so with arthritis pain? Studies show that modified and consistent yoga practice can help ease the pain, minimize joint stiffness, improve the flexibility of the joints, and help overcome underlying psychological issues that come with arthritis, like stress, depression, and anxiety.
Studies Show Yoga Can Assist with Arthritis Pain
Sharon L. Kolasinski, M.D., a professor of clinical medicine and a rheumatologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Medicine, studied the effects of yoga on people with knee arthritis. She found that people taking 90-minute yoga classes once a week for two months reported less knee pain and joint stiffness, as well as improvements in physical function. And Subhadra Evans, Ph.D., an adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics and researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, was impressed by yoga’s immediate, positive impact on sufferers after just six short weeks of yoga practice.
In addition, a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, a monthly international serial that publishes peer-reviewed research articles on rheumatology and its related fields, found that people with arthritis who practiced yoga three times a week reported less pain, a boost in energy and mood, and were in better physical and mental health compared to the group that didn’t do yoga.
Yoga Poses for Arthritis Pain
Since these studies and more clearly state the benefits of yoga for arthritis sufferers, you may think about how you can practice while you’re in pain. This is something you shouldn’t worry about because traditional yoga poses can easily be modified to accommodate the pain or joint stiffness.
For example, the popular downward facing dog pose involves the hands and feet being firmly placed on the ground, resulting in a pose that looks like the letter V. This may be painful for those who suffer from arthritis, but it can easily be modified by kneeling on the floor and performing a few of these variations. In addition, arthritis sufferers can use props — like a chair, block or strap — to help maintain balance and prevent muscle and joint exhaustion during some poses.
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How You Can Practice with Arthritis
If you want to ease your arthritis pain, it’s recommended that you frequently practice yoga. Whether it’s at home or in the studio, “yoga is gentle enough for most people to do every day,” says Dr. Kolasinski.
If you want to practice yoga at home, you can use a purchased DVD, printed yoga instructions, of stream videos online that are specifically geared towards arthritis suffers via YouTube or doyogawithme.com. However, if you need more structure by participating in a yoga class, you want to make sure you find the right instructor to fit your needs. According to arthritis.org, a good instructor not only understands that you have arthritis and knows your limitations, but shows you how to modify the moves to suit your needs.”
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