By Faye Martins
During most Yoga teacher training courses, the health of the skeletal body and it’s relationship with asana is covered. The weak links within the skeletal body are our joints. Our joints are the areas of the body in which bones are joined together, and this allows bones to glide freely and painlessly. When diseases like arthritis damage the cartilage that facilitates this movement, symptoms like stiffness and pain occur. While exercise is critical for healthy joints, overuse can be harmful. Yoga’s gentle, restorative postures help to strengthen these areas and keep them flexible, but every routine should be suited to the needs of the individual practitioner.
Stress and the Joints
While too much stress can damage joints, too little stress can lead to degeneration. Yoga students vary in their strengths and abilities, and Yoga instructors need a good knowledge of anatomy in order to respond to each person’s needs. Certain poses are designed to place stress on the joints, but they must be done safely to avoid injuries and be beneficial. Too much or too little stress is detrimental.
How Yoga Helps
According to studies at Duke University Medical Center, Yoga training relieves chronic pain caused by disorders like osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome, but poses must be performed correctly. When done properly, Yoga strengthens the muscles around the joints, increasing mobility and reducing tension in swollen, damaged areas. Props may be used to safely adapt the postures.
Five Easy Poses for the Joints
• Standing Mudra Pose is a stretch that helps to relieve shoulder pain by using a strap held across the back to open the heart and shoulder blades.
• Cobra Pose lengthens the spine and stretches the abdomen. Staying low in this pose can strengthen the core and improve posture without aggravating already-existing back problems.
• Supported Warrior II Pose is done against a wall with the arms at shoulder height and the outside toes of one foot, and the other heel, pressing against the wall. When practiced at moderate height this posture helps with knee pain.
• Bound Angle or Butterfly Pose is a seated posture that stretches the hamstrings, relieves tension in the thigh muscles and increases flexibility in the hips.
• The Wall Plank Pose is the same as Plank Pose but is done in a standing position against a wall to relieve pressure on the shoulders. It strengthens muscles in the shoulders and elbow and increases flexibility.
Although these poses help with pain in the shoulders, back, knees and hips, an experienced Yoga teacher should make sure they are being done correctly in order to avoid further injuries and maximize benefits.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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