Does yoga for arthritis help students, clients, and patients? Although a specialist workshop or yoga teacher training for arthritis is rare, much information is available. We know that controlled movement, such as traditional asana, can relieve pain. We also know that too much repetitive motion will cause pain. Therefore, holding asanas are fine if a student has arthritis, but flowing through them isn’t recommended. Arthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that can make everyday tasks challenging. Many people turn to yoga as a form of exercise and relaxation, but does yoga training specifically for arthritis help?
What About Research?
According to a study published in 2015 in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, the answer is yes. The study found that people with arthritis who took part in yoga classes designed for their condition experienced significant improvements in pain, fatigue, and physical function. The class participants also reported better sleep quality and mental well-being after participating in the yoga classes. According to a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, yoga may help reduce pain, improve function, and increase the range of motion in people with arthritis.
Living with Arthritis
Yoga may also help reduce inflammation, a key factor in arthritis. In one study, people with arthritis who practiced yoga had lower levels of a marker for inflammation called C-reactive protein (CRP) than those who didn’t do yoga. In addition, yoga may help improve mood and sleep quality in people with arthritis. Poor sleep and low mood can worsen the pain and make it harder to cope with a chronic condition like arthritis. If you have arthritis and are interested in trying yoga, it’s important to find a class tailored to your needs. Look for a class designated as “gentle” or “beginner” level, and make sure the instructor is familiar with teaching students with arthritis.
There are many different types of arthritis. The two major types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms, affecting millions of people worldwide. It results from premature or natural wear of the joints, causing the cushion between bones, or cartilage, to break down over time. Osteoarthritis can be hereditary, come with age, or be the result of previous stresses on the major joints. Many athletes suffer from osteoarthritis.
About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis also affects over a million people in the United States, but it differs from osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body begins to attack the joints with chronic inflammation. Over time, this can lead to severe damage or deformation. Along with the swelling and joint pain that is common to all types of arthritic disease, the symptoms of rheumatoid include fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever.
All types of arthritic disease can include symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness, swelling, pain, aching joints, and difficulty performing certain movements. Regardless of the cause or type of arthritis, yoga can effectively reduce or even eliminate many symptoms.
The Yogic Solution
Regular yoga helps lubricate the joints, allowing them to move more easily and smoothly. Yoga poses increase the blood flow to all areas of the body, allowing the blood to remove toxins. This can benefit anyone suffering from all types of arthritic disease symptoms. Yoga also helps improve joints’ range of motion by gently moving and strengthening them gently. Many sufferers avoid using the affected joints because it hurts. The result of disuse, however, is more stiffness and pain. To work through the pain and stiffness, arthritis sufferers must continue to move the joints. Yoga instructors should remind their students to understand one’s pain threshold. Movement (vinyasa) may cause pain, but holding the asana for longer periods (up to 3 or 4 minutes) will give students long-term pain relief. Therefore, students should respect pain but hold asanas for the best results.
About Yoga Poses
There are many basic yoga poses, but arthritis sufferers should focus on stretching the joints that give them the most trouble. Some basic exercises and asanas to try to include Sukasana, modified leg raises, mild shoulder stretches, linear neck stretching, standing side stretch pose, hand clenching and wrist stretches, ankle rotations, and Shavasana. Students should also remember to breathe deeply with each pose. This can reduce the pain of the stretch and help fresh blood keep circulating within the body.
Side Notes for Yoga Teachers
Each student is different. The exact type of arthritis, the pain level, and the joints affected will often be unique to each person. As always, learn all you can through independent research. Finding specialized yoga teacher training for arthritis isn’t realistic at this time. Still, we can collect data, enabling future generations of teachers to help their students while those who suffer will find relief. The medical industry and yoga can continue to progress now and in the future.