Yoga practice has been found useful in many orthopedic conditions – especially arthritis. There are many forms and causes of arthritis, however broadly speaking there are two main reasons for arthritis:
- Lack of use of the joints due to sedentary lifestyle which usually comes with the burden of unwarranted body weight
- Excessive and damaging use of joints; activities like unsupervised running or weight training with postural defects can lead to bone degeneration due to increased friction
Most joints in the human body are made of
i. synovial fluid that lubricates the joints,
ii. ligaments, a tough fibrous band of elastic strands that keep the two bones connected, and
iii. muscles adjoining the joint aiding its movement.
Relaxing these muscles and increasing the blood circulation in the joints reduces the pain and the stiffness caused due to arthritis. In this post, we will see different yoga poses for arthritis which helps in relaxing these muscles and increase the blood circulation in joints.
Reduced joint movements cause a lot of discomforts and restrict us from performing routine activities. Yoga with its controlled movements helps an individual to increase the range of motion, strengthens the muscles around the joints and increases its flexibility.
Yoga teaches its students to get less agitated with pain. To manage and disassociate from the pain is as important as actual healing. Yoga, when pursued with the right intent, develops mental tenacity like no other discipline.
Preventive and curative yoga postures for arthritis:
Stretch both your legs out and fold both your legs at the knees. Your right heel touching the left buttock – and the left heel touching your right thigh as high as possible. This happens when you place your left knee on the right. Make it a point not to sit on your heels.
Breathe comfortably and push the lowest part of your spine forward. The spine should be absolutely straight.
Now take your right hand over your head and bend it at the elbows. Keeping the upper arm close to ear let your right palm rest on the upper back.
Keep your left arm very close to the body – fold the arm at the elbow and try to catch the fingers of your right hand.
Benefits: This pose helps your shoulders and elbow primarily; also the gentle push to the other joints of the knee, hip, and lower back helps reduce pain in these joints.
Lie down on your back, relaxed and breathing easy; fold your legs at the knees and get your heels as close to the body as possible. Keep your feet flat and turn the toes slightly inwards – this helps one to keep the heels parallel to each other. Lift your buttocks, lower back and then try to push the whole of your back till the shoulders. Your head and shoulders should touch the floor. All this while when you are lifting yourself please try to hold your ankle and make sure your elbows touch the floor.
Benefits: This posture is easy on the joints as you neither have to kneel down nor do you have to excessively twist any body part, yet the benefits are many. It helps relax the back and work on the whole spine increasing its suppleness. Pressing the chin against the chest gives the added benefit of massaging the thyroid gland aiding its secretion.
Lie down flat on your stomach and fold your legs at the knees. Extend your arm backward and grab your feet two inches below the toe. Now lift your leg upwards and backward.
Here we should aim to get the toes as high as possible and the heels as far away from the buttocks as possible. The position of the arm, lifting and pulling of the knees and the curvature of the spine allows this posture to work on the major joints of the body.
Benefits: It recharges the whole body as it works on your spine intensively; opens up chest and shoulders and helps relieve pain throughout the back. It is a very good pose to fight acidity as well.
4 Baddha Konasana
Sit with your legs stretched and then bend your knees to get your feet together. Now bring your heels as close to the body as possible. Hold your feet with interlocked fingers and stretch your spine upwards and push the lower back forward. Hold the pose for 20 seconds, focusing on the spine and back.
Now start pushing the knee down on the mat; the first stage of the pose the spine is erect and the heels are touching your body with your calf and knee touching the floor.
Extend the chest forward and come down; try and get your forehead on the mat follow it up with your chin on the mat. Hands remain fully stretched in the front.
Benefits: Knees and the pelvic joint get relief from accumulated stress. Pelvic movement improves and knee pain subsides as hamstrings become free.
Sit with your legs outstretched. Take your left leg under the right – fold the leg at the knee. Let the left heel touch the right hip. The right knee is pointing upwards with your right heel touching the left knee. Lift your left arm up and take it across the right thigh, hold the left knee with your left palm. Take the right hand behind and try to grab the right thigh. Now twist the spine.
From coccyx to the medulla whole spine should twist. This pose relieves the back muscles of residual tension acquired during the course of practice and also acts as a corrective posture for a bent spine.
Those who have a stiff pelvic joint will find it very difficult to put the right feet properly on the mat. Also, those with inflexible shoulders won’t be able to grab the knee in front of the thigh from behind. It seems pointless to even attempt if one does not require a stretch. However constant effort to twist the body with the spine being at the center of it is a must as it provides flexibility and support to a variety of joints at one go.
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