Practicing yoga for arthritis relief can give greater mobility, cut pain and help reduce inflammation, as well as combating the stress and weariness of the condition. Combine this with some simple diet and lifestyle guidelines and positive change may be closer than you think.
There are around 100 different types of arthritis, ranging from the better known like osteoarthritis (when the bones rub together) and rheumatoid arthritis (where there is inflammation of the synovial membrane), to lesser know like lupus and psoriatic arthritis. The thing they all have in common is that they can be extremely painful, often in the joints.
The yogic approach to arthritis can help reduce the levels of pain, and prolong, or re-establish, a range of movement which could otherwise be lost. Yoga for arthritis is primarily focussed on using yoga poses, diet and deep, healing relaxation to aid the sufferer.
Yoga Poses for Arthritis
Arthritis can start a downward spiral of increasing immobility. It becomes painful to move the joints, so you move them less, this means that their range of motion reduces, which in turn means that it becomes increasingly painful to move them, and so on. Introducing some regular movement at the very least will help delay this process, and may in fact turn it around.
It’s important to be gentle when beginning a yoga routine, so make sure you don’t try to do too much too soon. If you’re new to yoga then try and find a class nearby where you can work with a teacher. Be sure to speak to them beforehand so they can give you specific suggestions for your condition, and keep an eye out for you during the class. Avoid styles of yoga like astanga yoga or power yoga as they may be too vigorous for you. Don’t worry, the majority of yoga styles are very appropriate for arthritis sufferers.
Arthritis can strike various parts of your body, from top to bottom, so doing a full yoga routine can be helpful in maintaining mobility in areas that are currently not arthritic, as well as helping those areas which are painful.
Having said this, it makes sense to pay particular attention to the arthritic areas of your body, so be sure to move those areas a few times per day.
The deep relaxation you experience at the end of a yoga session allows the body to do some powerful healing. Meditation helps your body access this state more frequently. Find out about Easy Meditation Techniques and notice how your outlook changes as you practice.
Recommended resource: The yoga for arthritis dvd, Yoga for the Rest of Us: Easy Yoga for Arthritis, is a very gentle program that can be used by anyone with sore or stiff joints. Get it from amazon.com
Yoga Diet Recommendations for Arthritis
The traditional Yogic health system, known as Ayurveda says that arthritic conditions are largely the result of an imbalance of the vata dosha (wind element), a contributory factor of which is poor digestion – in particular, that the digestive fire (agni) is not hot enough to burn up toxins, which then accumulate around the joints.
To counter this add herbs like ginger, garlic and turmeric to your diet. These have powerful anti-inflammatory properties as well as stimulating the self-healing abilities of the body. Cumin and coriander are worth adding too.
Aloe vera juice is another natural anti-inflammatory, so should prove particularly helpful in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Drink it two or three times per day for best effect. You can also add some raw ginger to a cup of hot water as a tasty, warming remedy.
Add green leafy vegetables, carrots and vegetable soups and drinks, and make sure you have a high intake of vitamin C. Drinking fresh orange juice, or having freshly squeezed lemon juice in your water is an easy way to get this vitamin. Vitamin D helps, and you can get that for free by being exposed to the sun – getting some heat in those joints helps too!
The list of things to avoid contains the usual suspects like coffee, alcohol and fried foods. Potatoes and commercial chocolate are worth steering clear of too. These and anything that you know which promotes gas in you should be cut out or at least reduced.
Red meat, which can be high in uric acid, contributes to conditions like gout, where acid crystals accumulate around the joints (making those cracky sounds you can sometimes hear). Alcohol generally reduces the body’s ability to get rid of uric acid, although the occasional glass of red wine may do your gout some good (this has more to do with the qualities of the grapes, rather than the benefits of the alcohol).
Generally speaking, the more alkaline your diet is, the better.
Massage for Arthritis Pain Relief
Warm the affected area with a wheat bag or hot towels, then massage gently with warmed sesame oil, or warmed mustard oil. Depending on how chronic the discomfort is do this at least twice per week. Daily would be great, if you can manage it. Take your time and massage well, leaving the oil on for as long as possible.
Yoga for Arthritis – Give It A Try
If you have arthritis then hopefully this page has given you some ideas and enough motivation to consider what the yogic approach has to say on the condition. Let me know how you get on!
Useful resources: Arthritis.org is the website of the Arthritis Foundation, a non-profit organisation. Click here to visit
If you want to investigate the world of Ayurvedic herbal remedies then consider Arthmender from India Herbs which is a guaranteed ayurvedic formula containing 12 herbs for joint rejuvenation.