What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is joint inflammation that causes stiffness and soreness. It typically worsens as you age. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage between your bones to break down, leaving bone to rub against bone. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is the result of an autoimmune disease.
There is no cure for arthritis; instead, treatment aims to reduce the symptoms so that you can live more fully without pain. Practicing yoga with the appropriate yoga equipment often is recommended as a treatment for arthritis. The Mayo Clinic recognizes yoga as a viable alternative to pain medication and more invasive treatments.
How Yoga Works
Practicing yoga postures increases joint flexibility and the production of synovial fluid, a joint’s natural lubricant, which greatly can enhance your range of motion, even when you have arthritis. It’s the slow stretching movements of the poses that bring relief. Even the most basic beginner yoga classes can ease arthritis pain. You don’t need to twist yourself into a pretzel with various kinds of yoga equipment to benefit from the stretches.
According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, Hatha Yoga, with its emphasis on form and safety and slower pace, is ideal for people with the joint disorder. Hatha Yoga primarily focuses on the physical practice of yoga and benefits such as increasing strength and improving balance.
Positive Side Effects
Yoga offers more than just physical relief. One of the side effects of practicing yoga while seeking relief from arthritis pain is the peace of mind that you can gain. Through practice, you come to accept your limitations, aging body and pain levels. Another positive side effect of doing yoga is that you become less frustrated with yourself and experience less stress overall.
A few scientific studies have been performed regarding the efficacy of using yoga to treat arthritis; all have seen positive results. It’s best to consult your doctor before undertaking a new activity like yoga. Your doctor may recommend certain types of yoga equipment or have specific instructions regarding your practice. Also, when you find a certified instructor to begin your yoga training, make sure you alert her to your condition.
The yoga equipment you absolutely must have to begin a class or private session is a mat that will cushion your back and help you avoid slipping. You should wear comfortable clothing — nothing too restrictive.
Another piece of yoga equipment that may help you is the Three Minute Egg®, of course. A solid piece of comfortable foam, it is designed to fit the curves of your body to help you ease into poses and cushion your movements. If your instructor is a trained “Eggspert,” he or she can guide you in the best ways to use Eggs in your practice.
Above all, listen to your body, a skill that you undoubtedly will develop while learning new yoga postures. Yoga does not follow the “no pain, no gain” rule that other forms of exercise embrace. Instead, when doing yoga with yoga equipment, stop if it hurts. Stretch only as far as is comfortable. As your flexibility increases, you will be able to do more. In yoga, as in many other aspects of living with painful conditions, a little goes a long way. Good health to you!