The benefits of yoga for overall physical and emotional well-being are numerous — from increased flexibility and muscle strength to lower stress levels and mental clarity. September is National Yoga Month, and the team of board-certified rheumatologists at the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, with offices in Princeton, Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, discusses the benefits of yoga for their arthritis patients and anyone else who wants to improve their health, naturally. Take a moment to learn how yoga can improve mobility (and so much more!) for people with arthritis.
Breathe in … to build strength and harmony
Practicing yoga helps you focus on breathing and building awareness of the mind-body connection. The gentle exercises and “flow” of yoga help you focus on your body’s natural tendency to heal itself and find balance. As a preventive method for arthritis symptoms, or as a way to slow down the progression of degenerative joint diseases, a daily yoga practice can help:
- Decrease chronic pain and stiffness
- Relieve headaches
- Lower blood pressure and stress
- Reduce insomnia
- Increase flexibility, muscle strength and tone
- Restore range of motion
- Increase energy
- Protect you from injury
As you know, when arthritis affects your joints, you can feel less stable on your feet. Yoga helps you find your balance and build strength, and therefore protects you from falls that could intensify painful arthritis symptoms.
Breathe out … to decrease inflammation
Many types of arthritis cause your joints to swell and turn red from inflammation. This is especially true of autoimmune forms of the disease, like rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A recent medical study of women who practiced yoga on a regular basis measured the proteins in the women’s blood.
Results of the study indicated that experienced yoga practitioners had lower levels of inflammation-causing proteins in their blood. Many of these proteins play a role in arthritis inflammation, including RA. Therefore, a regular yoga practice of a few times a week, or even daily, can decrease painful symptoms, and quite possibly prevent further inflammation over time.
Yoga is gentle on arthritic joints
Men and women with arthritis can benefit from regular exercise, but all too often, regular exercise is painful for those with degenerative joint conditions. However, yoga is gentle enough for everyone, young and old, beginner to expert. Most yoga poses can be modified for your specific needs, so you can avoid aggravating painful, flaring joints.
Feeling like you’re in too much pain to get up and move? You can begin a yoga practice while seated in a chair and progress as you gain strength and feel more comfortable. The key is to keep moving, even if it’s just a little at first. As you continue your gentle yoga practice, you may begin to notice improved mobility and a more positive outlook regarding any limitations your arthritis presents.
Yoga can change your mind-body relationship with pain
As you build your mind-body connection through yoga practice, you may begin to notice a shift in your perception of pain. Yoga reduces stress, tension, and anxiety, and promotes a more positive mood. When you have a more positive outlook in general, you are better able to manage — or even reduce — arthritis pain.
With regular yoga exercises, you can build strength, endurance, and flexibility, which may motivate you to keep moving, since you feel better both physically and mentally each time you achieve a personal goal during a yoga class or your at-home practice.
Improve your quality of life through yoga
Although arthritis pain can make it difficult to participate in daily activities because of pain and inflammation, yoga can be an effective therapeutic method for overcoming daily challenges, thus improving your quality of life. In a recent study of senior men and women, those who practiced yoga for six months noted a significantly improved quality of life over their peers who didn’t participate in yoga, or who chose to take walks instead.
The seniors who practiced yoga reported improved mood, less fatigue, and an overall better quality of life. So, not only did these participants increase their mobility, but they boosted their moods and sense of happiness, as well.
Want to find your balance with yoga to improve life with osteoarthritis, RA, or other forms of the disease? Since September is National Yoga Month, now is the perfect time to get started.
Call the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey office location that’s most convenient for you, or schedule a consultation using the online system, to learn more about effective complimentary treatments to manage arthritis pain. And, as is customary to say at the end of each yoga session, Namaste.