Yoga dates back more than 5,000 years to ancient India. The word yoga comes from Sanskrit (an Indian language) words meaning “to join” or “yoke together”, the idea of linking mind and body together when practicing it. The practice unites movement and breath. Today people from all over the world practice different styles of yoga on a regular basis. Among them are people with arthritis, who find yoga is easy on their joints, relieves their symptoms and promotes relaxation. Many other people worry about taking a spill that could cause a bone fracture, potentially changing their quality of life forever. Doing yoga to build up strength can help to maintain that balance and prevent a fall.
Yoga and Arthritis- Yoga is ideal for people with arthritis, it offers a form of daily physical activity but poses little risk of injury to delicate joints. Yoga also has benefits in the mind/body area. Yoga helps you relax and helps with stress reduction. Scientists are just beginning to examine yoga’s physical and mental benefits. Studies show that regular yoga practice can reduce pain and improve function in people with arthritis. With its gentle stretches and weight-bearing resistance moves, yoga can help build strength and improve balance and posture.
Yoga and Strength Building- Some yoga poses build up strength in your lower body to help you maintain your balance.
Warrior I is a pose that builds up power in your legs and hips. If you’re new to yoga, you can perform Warrior I against a wall. As you progress in the pose, you’ll eventually be able to do it on your own two feet. Warrior I will help you build the muscles to maintain your balance.
• Face a wall and spread your legs so that one set of toes are touching the wall, and the other leg is stretched back, with toes pointed outward.
• Square your hips to face the wall and keep your torso upright.
• Stretch your arms out straight and slightly up so that they press against the wall, keeping your shoulders down.
• Exhale and bend your front knee until it’s at nearly a right angle.
• Inhale as you come up.
• Repeat twice before switching to the other leg.
Once you’re strong enough, you can ditch the wall support and raise your arms above your head, palms facing inward.
Gentle Yoga – It is important to find an instructor who understands your physical limitations and can modify poses for you if necessary. You should not overdo it, and always be mindful of the fact that you have arthritis or limitations. One of yoga’s biggest benefits is that is stretches your muscles and improves your flexibility.
By Lorna Mills, RN