From easing pain to boosting flexibility, yoga has a long list of benefits for people with arthritis.
“Yoga is as safe as walking when it’s done properly,” says Steffany Moonaz, PhD, founder of Yoga for Arthritis and a research director at Maryland University of Integrative Health.
However, many people do poses incorrectly or without proper support. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly 11 percent of people who did yoga experienced pain at some point as a result, and 1 in 5 said yoga made an existing injury worse. Stay safe with these simple tips.
Find the right class. Vinyasa and power yoga are usually fast-paced. “A class that spends more time on each pose is better suited for someone with arthritis,” says Moonaz. Choose those described as “beginner,” “therapeutic,” “gentle” or “chair,” or those tailored for people with arthritis.
Get the right instructor. Your teacher should be able to suggest modifications so poses are safe for your joints. Before you sign up for a class, ask about the instructor’s qualifications and experience teaching people with arthritis or similar conditions.
Reach for props. If you don’t have enough range of motion or strength for certain poses, try yoga props such as blocks, wedges, blankets and straps to support and protect your joints.
Know your limits. “Don’t try to force yourself into a certain shape,” says Moonaz. Listen to your body; if the pain feels sharp, shooting or unusual, ease off of the move, tell your instructor and ask for assistance.
Be mindful. “Yoga isn’t simply a form of exercise,” says Moonaz. It also incorporates breathing and body awareness. “It’s when you lose that mindfulness and become distracted that injuries are more likely to occur,” she says.
Author: SHARON LIAO
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