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Arthritis, Yoga and Me

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” - B.K.S. Iyengar

The benefits of yoga are being heralded by many health organizations. We should look at yoga as an ongoing practice and not a quick fix. Yoga teaches us to coordinate our mind, body and breath in coordinated movements. Controlling the breath is essential for a meaningful yoga practice.  The benefits include:

  • Increased flexibility.
  • Increased muscle strength and tone.
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality.
  • Maintaining a balanced metabolism.
  • Weight reduction or maintenance
  • Cardio and circulatory health.
  • Improved athletic performance.
  • Protection from injury.

The beauty of yoga is that you are not in competition with anyone not even yourself. You do what you can do when you can do it. If it hurts do not do it.  I began my yoga practice six years ago. I have arthritis in my hands, wrists and knees. I am limited in the physical activity involving my knees. I can no longer walk long distances on hard pavement. When I started my practice I could not touch my toes, hold a pose for long, complete a down dog without wrist and hand pain or maintain my balance in the tree pose.  I started with the beginners class for over a year.  When I could not find a beginners class I took the prenatal class with young pregnant women. I was not embarrassed or felt out of place. Remember there is no competition in yoga; whatever is happening on someone else's mat is not important.  After the end of the first year my wrist and hand pain had diminished,  I could do a forward fold and touch my toes and keep my balance in tree pose. Most importantly my knee pain has lessened and I was able to complete and hold poses that were too difficult when I began. 

In year six I choose to continue with gentle yoga that emphasizes stretching and balance. There are some poses I cannot do and that is okay. Down dog is no longer a chore to engage but often a resting pose. 

If you suffer with arthritis or another health issue that limits your mobility, I urge you to consider and try a gentle yoga practice.  Always consult your physician before you begin a new physical activity.  Find a yoga studio you trust to begin your practice. When you feel confident, you can practice at home. There are a number of yoga classes you can access on the internet and watch on your electronic tablet.  The Pad Go Round allows you to take your tablet anywhere and set it up on a mini tripod on the floor.  Visit us at www.padgoround.com and purchase one.