Yoga Exercises for Arthritis: no need to suffer!
Sometimes arthritis is unavoidable, no matter how fit or how healthy we eat. We recently celebrated my mother’s 70th birthday, and this is a woman who goes to the gym 5 days a week, eats very healthy and looks like she is in her mid fifties. Yet, no matter how many miles she treks on the elliptical, how much she swims, how much oatmeal or how many pints of blueberries she eats, she was unable to avoid arthritis. Despite what stubborn parents might believe, there is great benefit to adding yoga exercises for arthritis into your fitness routine.
If your back is stiff, or if you have pain in your knees or wrists, it is most likely from arthritis. Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation or swelling of the joints. If you do suffer from this painful condition, you’re not alone. Arthritis affects at least 40% of the population aged 45 to 64 and 60% of people aged 65 and older. There is a common misconception that arthritis only affects the aging, however, even children, teenagers, and young adults can develop it.
Some attribute arthritis to a poor lifestyle, while others believe it has primarily to do with genetics. There is truth in both; however the common denominator in arthritis is that it can be correlated with poor bone and muscle health and can be onset by disproportionate body weight, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
When you practice yoga exercises for arthritis, you can enhance your mobility, flexibility, physique and life in general. Yoga poses help to make your joints stronger and are important to both preventing and managing arthritis. Yoga practices allow joints to function normally, which means a reduction in stiffness. Additionally, Yoga is all about balance and breath, which help regulate the levels of uric acid in the body.
There are several basic asanas that have proven effective in dealing with arthritis. The Easy Pose helps straighten the spine, slow down metabolism, promote inner tranquility and helps keep your mind still. It is simply sitting cross-legged with a straight back and inhaling and exhaling. You want to try and elongate your spine in this pose, so take a trip down memory lane when your mother or grandmother used to straighten your shoulders so you had better posture. (She knew what she was talking about!) Repeat for a few minutes.
Next, we move down to the neck, eyes closed, focused on your breathing, slowly drop your head and let it rotate to one side (as if in a “U” formation.) Hold this position for a few moments, and then repeat on the other side. Leg raises are also excellent for elongating the body and stretching sore spots. Lie on your back, place your hand behind your thigh or your calf (not on your knee- as this adds unnecessary pressure), and gently pull back until you feel it stretch. (At your own speed, and do not overstretch. Do what is comfortable for you.) Repeat with the other leg. These are just a few yoga exercises for arthritis to help get you started. Remember to consult with your physician first or do the poses under the supervision of a certified yoga instructor prior to starting this or any exercise program, as not all yoga poses should be practiced by those with arthritis.