Posted by: Trudy Prevost | September 16, 2015

Yoga for Arthritis



Although there are many different forms of arthritis, the most common forms are Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.

Mayo Clinic defines Rheumatoid Arthritis

“Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can affect other organs of the body — such as the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels.

Although rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it usually begins after age 40. The disorder is much more common in women.

Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage.”

Mayo Clinic defines Osteo Arthritis

“Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.

Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.

Osteoarthritis often gradually worsens, and no cure exists. But staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.

Osteoarthritis is the most commonly found joint disorder and is often caused by trauma or wear and tear on the joints; a wearing away of cartilage occurs; bony overgrowths may also occur within the joint. Joint movements tend to become more painful and restricted.

Yoga for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Although the principal causes of arthritis are unknown, experts cite aging, injury, obesity, infection, and autoimmune reactions as possible factors.

Many people have found practicing yoga to be one of the best ways of managing pain or keeping pain at bay.

Gentle Hatha Yoga and Restorative yoga has long been recognized as a beneficial. therapeutic exercise for arthritis; the gentle, movements; the focus on the breath; the relaxation into the poses and the concept that each person goes only as far into the poses as it feels right for them to go; is perfect for those dealing with limited range of motion and stiffness in the joints.

Practicing yoga regularly improves stamina, cardiovascular and respiratory function while joint vulnerability decreases. Psychologically the participant feels better and has more energy.

Yoga stretching can enhance levels of flexibility by lengthening shortened muscles; therefore providing an improved range of motion.

Weight bearing poses build muscle and bone; improving posture and. strength.

The massage from gentle exercising brings the blood and fluid flow to the area, releasing tightness and tension and lubricating the joints which helps with stiffness.

The release of “feel good” chemicals in the brain; such as endorphins; help the participant to manage pain.

Exercising can also help you lose any extra weight, which means less strain on the joints in our daily movements.

A good exercise programme will incorporate three types of exercise: range of movement, strengthening and cardio.

It is often best to arrange for a few private classes or attend a special Yoga for Arthritis program before entering even a beginners yoga class.

Have your yoga teacher advise you on the best exercises and variations of exercises to do for your level of fitness, range of motion and your bodies reaction to the exercises. Then most participants can confidently enter a regular beginners or hatha yoga class.


Move gently, gradually and persistently towards optimal alignment, quick or excessive movement should be avoided.

Start with frequent, low intensity sessions. In almost every case within a few weeks the participant is able to increase the length of yoga sessions to a 1 or 1 ½ hour regular class.

Listen to and respect your body. Exercise intensity should be reduced or avoided during periods of pain and inflammation. It is important not to overstrain yourself.

Breathe properly, utilizing the entire lung. Do not hold the breath. Work towards making the inhale and exhale the same length. Treat the complete breath as an exercise that will increase your lung capacity and strength over time. The paced breath is proving to be a very powerful pain management technique as well.

Do not hold a single position for prolonged periods of time.

Give the body some time to adjust to the new program. Commit to at least one month to see if this is the right program for you.

It may be helpful to take a hot shower or bath before beginning your practice. Be safe and warm up thoroughly when you start. Make sure to cool down at the end.

In the beginning it is usual to feel some discomfort as your muscles get used to being exercised. Seek advice from your doctor if you feel pain in the joint itself or if the pain continues as this might be a sign you have overdone it.

Please talk to your doctor before starting any new healthy lifestyle program.

Contact Rainbow Yoga Health and Wellness for tours, workshops and classes. 317-3753,

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