How Yoga Can Help Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis | BeWellBuzz (2022)


Yoga combines physical, mental, and spiritual practices through mediums such as breath control, meditation, and bodily postures. Yoga originated in ancient India, and it is widely known and practiced for good health and relaxation.

There are many benefits to practicing yoga. It has been proven to relieve depression, increase flexibility, improve circulation and respiration, strengthen muscles and bones, promote weight loss, restore energy, decrease inflammation, and so much more.

That’s why yoga can benefit those suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis.

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RELATED: Benefits of Yoga for Inflammation

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease—a condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. When the immune cells attack the joints, the tissue in the joints thickens, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain.

In the long run, rheumatoid arthritis can cause irreversible damage to the cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones, and then to the bones themselves. Left untreated, arthritis will only get worse over time, leading to more swelling, more pain, and often, joint deformity.

The most common joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis are in the hands, feet, knees, wrists, elbows, and ankles. The disease usually affects symmetrical body parts, meaning that if one hand is affected, the other is usually affected as well.

Rheumatoid arthritis is not an uncommon disease. About 1.5 million people in the United States have RA, and it affects three times as many women as it does men.

If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you should know that there are natural ways to keep the disease under control. One such method is daily yoga to reduce symptoms and increase flexibility.

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Yoga and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, meaning that it will often flare up during times of depression, stress, or anxiety. Yoga is an excellent stress management technique that can help to keep stress hormone levels low, thus RA flare-ups at bay. (1)

Studies show that yoga practitioners become more resilient to stressful conditions, reducing their risk of various diseases. (2)

Yoga improves flexibility, fighting the stiffness that rheumatoid arthritis brings. It also improves muscle strength, something that many people with RA lose over time.

(Video) Heal the inflammation and pain caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis with Yoga!

Many studies support the practice of yoga for its physical and psychological benefits for people with rheumatoid arthritis. (3)(4)(5)

There are many different schools of yoga, and when it comes to RA, they are not all equally beneficial. When seeking yoga for RA, opt for Iyengar Yoga, Hatha Yoga, or Restorative Yoga.

Incorporate the following yoga moves into your daily routine for ongoing disease management.

RELATED:How Frankincense and Myrrh Can Help Heal Arthritis

8 Yoga Moves for Rheumatoid Arthritis

1. Easy Seated Pose

Focus on your breathing or practice meditation with a seated pose. Find a comfortable spot and sit cross-legged with your hands resting on your knees. Breathe in and out through your nose, or in through your nose and out through your mouth. Don’t try to control your breathing; just take note that you are breathing at that moment. Is your breath shallow and quick? Deep and slow? Notice how it may change over time.

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2. Garland Pose

Stretch out your ankles, groin, back, and wrists with the garland pose.

Squat with your feet as close together as possible and separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso. Exhale and lean forward, pressing your elbows against your inner knees. Bring your palms together and push your knees into your elbows. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.

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3. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

For those suffering from stiffness in the spine due to RA, this pose can help to stretch and restore flexibility to the spine.

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of your left leg on the floor. Bring your right foot over your left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. Your right knee should point up toward the ceiling.

Exhale and twist toward your right thigh. Press your right hand against the floor behind your buttock, and place your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your thigh in toward your torso.

Press your right foot into the floor and lengthen your torso. Twist your torso by turning your head to the right. With every exhale, twist a little more. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

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4. Bridge Pose

This versatile backbend opens up the chest and stretches the thighs, bringing maximum blood flow to the core, hips, groin, and thighs. It will also help to strengthen your ankles and shoulders.

Lie flat on your back on a mat. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, heels as close to buttocks as possible.

Exhale, pressing your feet and arms to the floor, and push your tailbone upward, firming the buttocks, and lifting them off the floor. Keeping your thighs and feet parallel, clasp your hands under you, and extend your arms.

Your buttocks and thighs should be parallel with the floor with your knees directly above your heels. Lift your chin and chest firming your arms as you hold this pose for at least 30 seconds. Release in a slow, controlled way, rolling your spine down onto the floor.

5. Cat/Cow Flow

This gentle flow helps to restore flexibility and relieves pain in the spine.

Start in tabletop position with your knees directly below your hips and your wrists and elbows directly below your shoulders.

Exhale and round your spine toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders and knees in position for Cat Pose. As you inhale, come back toward tabletop position, then lift your tailbone and your chest toward the ceiling, letting your belly sink toward the floor for Cow Pose. Repeat about 20 times.

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6. Chair Pose

Improve balance, strengthen the arms and legs, and increase blood flow with this powerful pose.

Start in a standing position, feet together. Inhale and raise your arms up above your head, palms facing inward, or join the palms.

Exhale and bend your knees until your thighs are as close to parallel with the floor as possible. The knees will extend over the feet, and the torso will lean forward so that it forms a right angle with the thighs.

Keep your back straight and hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.

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7. Tree Pose

This pose helps to strengthen the core and the muscles in and around the knees, calves, ankles, and feet. It challenges your balance and coordination but helps you follow through even after you finish doing it.

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Stand with your feet together and palms together in front of your heart. Shift your weight to your right foot, slowly lifting your left foot off the floor. Place your left foot on the inside of your right calf with your knee pointing outward.

If you feel stable enough, clasp your left ankle and draw your foot up so that the sole of your left foot is against your inner right thigh. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

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8. Legs-up-the-Wall Pose

This is a great pose for relieving inflammation in the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. It helps to get your lymphatic system moving and your blood flowing.

You’ll need a folded towel or blanket for support. Start with the blanket five to six inches away from the wall. Lie down and gently swing your legs up on the wall. Adjust the blanket under you so that it is providing support to your lower back. If you can’t straighten your legs in the beginning, keep them slightly bent. Rest your hands on your belly, on your chest, behind your head, or at your sides.

Breathe normally as you hold the pose for at least one minute, preferably for five minutes. Before getting up, slowly slide your feet off the wall and lie on your side for a few breaths. Using your hand to push yourself off the floor, come up into a seated position, and slowly stand.

RELATED: Natural Inflammation Remedies for Pain and Arthritis

Conclusion

The key to doing yoga for RA is to do what feels good. Stretching and inversion poses should induce sighs of relief—not cries of pain. Over time, these poses help to improve flexibility, balance, and posture in your daily life. Make sure to keep your doctor informed if you decide to try something new.

Keep it up, and you may find that yoga is the gift that keeps on giving to your body, mind, and spirit.

————–

Sources:

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/16506070500401292
  2. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/15352751
  3. http://www.ijpp.com/IJPP%20archives/2001_45_3/355-360.pdf
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00296-009-0871-1
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3644391/

More Information:

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FAQs

How does yoga help rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Researchers have found that certain moves can ease many types of chronic pain, including the aches RA causes. Yoga also helps keep you flexible, helps you move more easily, and lowers stress. It may even help you sleep better. And a good night's rest makes it easier to manage pain or other symptoms throughout the day.

Can yoga reverse rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Yoga is well-known for helping practitioners decompress and improve their flexibility. Now a small study shows that it may also help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms and may even lead to improvements in disease activity.

How does yoga treat arthritis? ›

Trikonasana/ Triangle Pose:
  1. Stand with your feet wide apart. Stretch your right foot out (90 degrees) while keeping the leg closer to the torso.
  2. Keep your feet pressed against the ground and balance your weight equally on both feet. ...
  3. Keep your waist straight. ...
  4. Repeat on the other side.
2 Jul 2021

What type of yoga is best for arthritis? ›

Yin yoga is good option if your goal is to reduce chronic arthritis pain by reducing stress, muscle tension, and anxiety in the body. This type of yoga focuses on matching breath to movement during a flowing sequence of poses.

Which exercises are good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Studies indicate that exercise will not worsen rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. But if rheumatoid arthritis has severely damaged your hips or knees, you may want to choose low-impact exercises, such as swimming, water aerobics, walking or bicycling.

Does yoga help with inflammation? ›

In another recent study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers found that a three-month yoga retreat reduced inflammation and stress in the body. The yoga retreat incorporated physical postures, controlled breathing practices, and seated meditations.

Can we cure arthritis by yoga? ›

Research suggests that yoga can help people with various types of arthritis reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and function, and lower stress and tension for better sleep. And it's true. Yoga has not only helped me manage my RA symptoms better, but, on some days, it's been my source of peace.

Can yoga worsen arthritis? ›

Myth #1: Yoga involves so much twisting and bending – it's going to make my arthritis worse, not better. Fact: Many styles of yoga, including Iyengar yoga, include gentle, flowing movements and allow you to use a chair or other props to aid balance. These forms of yoga are safe for someone with arthritis.

Can yoga damage your joints? ›

Sometimes, overdoing it in yoga may exacerbate an underlying problem called femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI, in which the bones of the hip are abnormally shaped and don't move together smoothly. The hip bones grind against each other during movement, causing joint damage over time and osteoarthritis.

Which Pranayam is good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Pranayamas to relieve joint pain

Swami Ramdev says that pranayamas maintain proper blood circulation in the body which helps keep our organs healthy. He suggests starting the day with surya namaskar and then perform pranayamas like kapalbhati, anulom vilom, and bhastrika for effective results.

Does stretching fingers help arthritis? ›

Gently exercising your fingers and thumbs with a hand workout can improve their range of motion and decrease arthritis symptoms. It's one of the best ways to maintain function and independence.

Is Pilates or yoga better for arthritis? ›

Which is Better for Arthritis Yoga or Pilates? Both yoga and Pilates can help arthritis. Yoga helps strengthen and improve the flexibility of the muscles around the joints, and Pilates strengthens the bones and joints. If not used to practicing either Pilates or yoga, look for slow, beginner classes to start with.

Can arthritis be reversed with exercise? ›

Exercise doesn't reverse damage that's already done. But it helps prevent arthritis from getting worse, and it has the added benefit of keeping excess pounds off. That can make a huge difference on the joints that support most of the body's weight: the hips and knees.

Can yoga help arthritis in knees? ›

In recent years, research and anecdotal evidence have shown that people with osteoarthritis who practice yoga feel better. In fact, many doctors are beginning to see that yoga can be a useful complement to conventional arthritis treatments.

Are yoga Toes good for arthritis? ›

These tend to be worn while relaxing, and people report that they provide greater flexibility and length to the toes. This can provide relief from chronic foot conditions such as arthritis, gout, bunions, claw toe, plantar fasciitis, cramps, hammertoes, Morton's neuroma, and metatarsalgia.

What should you not do if you have rheumatoid arthritis? ›

  1. Not Seeing a Rheumatologist. Your regular doctor may have diagnosed your RA. ...
  2. Too Much Couch Time. You need rest, just not too much. ...
  3. Canceling Doctor Appointments. When you feel good, do you stop seeing your doctor? ...
  4. Not Taking All Your Medications. ...
  5. Skipping Medication When You Feel Good. ...
  6. Overlooking Your Mood.
20 Jan 2022

What aggravates rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Overexertion, poor sleep, stress or an infection like the flu can all set off RA symptoms. With a predictable flare you'll temporarily feel worse, but your symptoms will resolve in time. Unpredictable flares have more uncertainty associated with them.

Does stretching help rheumatoid? ›

Joint stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis may be relieved by gentle stretching that gets blood flowing and joint fluids moving. Many health care practitioners recommend doing gentle stretches each day to ease the joint stiffness. These stretches may also help maintain or even improve the joints' range of motion.

Which yoga is best for inflammation? ›

OM-azing: 5 best yoga poses for promoting healthy inflammation
  1. Supine Spinal Twist / Supta Matsyendrasana. ...
  2. Child's Pose / Balasana. ...
  3. Wide-Legged Forward Bend / Prasarita Padottanasana I. ...
  4. Warrior II / Virabhadrasana II. ...
  5. Legs Up the Wall Pose / Viparita Karani.

How long does it take to see results from yoga? ›

When done consistently and under the guidance of a proper yoga instructor, yoga usually takes about 6-12 weeks to see results, although this varies from person to person. Yoga must be practiced in its entirety for the best benefits.

How do you eat with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Aim to eat a healthy diet with:
  1. Lots of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. They should make up two-thirds of your plate.
  2. Low-fat dairy and lean proteins, which should make up one-third.
  3. Small amounts of saturated and trans fats.
  4. A little sugar.
  5. Limited alcohol.
13 Mar 2022

Can stretching worsen arthritis? ›

The truth? “Stretching is helpful,” says Amy Ashmore, PhD, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. Stretching particularly benefits those with arthritis by lubricating joints and enhancing and maintaining range-of-motion.

Is yogurt good for arthritis? ›

PROBIOTICS FOUND IN GREEK YOGURT SHOWN TO DECREASE INFLAMMATION OF ARTHRITIS. Probiotic supplementation was found to reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation in a recent randomized controlled study.

Is yoga hard on your knees? ›

Like any form of exercise, yoga can be intense and potentially harmful if it isn't approached mindfully. Certain types of yoga move at a faster pace and can actually put pressure on the knees. It's important to choose a style that will minimize intensity to avoid exacerbating knee pain.

When should you not do yoga? ›

Yoga should not be performed in a state of exhaustion, illness, in a hurry or in an acute stress conditions. Women should refrain from regular yoga practice especially asanas during their menses. Relaxation techniques and pranayama can be done instead. Don't perform yoga immediately after meals.

What are the negatives of yoga? ›

The three most common adverse effects of yoga reported were: (i) pain and soreness (i.e., 'I feel pain in upper and lower limbs' or 'I feel low back pain'), (ii) muscle injuries (most often sprains) and (iii) fatigue.

Why do my joints hurt after yoga? ›

Like any exercise, holding yoga poses causes muscle contractions that result in microscopic tears to the tissue. This prompts the body's inflammatory response, expanding blood vessels to allow more healing blood to flow to the injured tissue.

Which Pranayam is good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Pranayamas to relieve joint pain

Swami Ramdev says that pranayamas maintain proper blood circulation in the body which helps keep our organs healthy. He suggests starting the day with surya namaskar and then perform pranayamas like kapalbhati, anulom vilom, and bhastrika for effective results.

Does meditation help rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Meditation is good for your soul. Research shows it can also help ease pain caused by all types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and osteoarthritis (OA). For centuries, meditation has been used to help focus the mind and soothe the spirit.

What is the Ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Some of the herbs that Ayurvedic practitioners often use to treat RA include: Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense) garlic. ginger.

Is legs up the wall good for arthritis? ›

And when you're able to do more, Julie recommends the following poses that can really help relieve arthritic pain. Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall pose): “This pose is so beneficial because it helps get your inflammation moving and stimulates your lymphatic system,” says Julie.

Can Kapalbhati cure rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Pranayam like Bharamari, Ujjayi, Anulom Vilom, Kapalbhati, Shitli and Shitkari besides Surya Namaskar are effective in curing joint pain.

How do you eat with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Aim to eat a healthy diet with:
  1. Lots of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. They should make up two-thirds of your plate.
  2. Low-fat dairy and lean proteins, which should make up one-third.
  3. Small amounts of saturated and trans fats.
  4. A little sugar.
  5. Limited alcohol.
13 Mar 2022

Is yoga good for people with arthritis? ›

Absolutely. In fact, individuals with limited range of motion or poor flexibility, due to arthritis or otherwise, may benefit the most from yoga practice, as it can increase flexibility, strength, and balance. Even if you are unable to kneel or have difficulty getting up and down, modifications are available.

Is Hot yoga good for joints? ›

Bikram is performed in a room at a whopping 105°F. That heat gets joint fluid flowing and can loosen stiff ankles, knees, and hands. Yoga and tai chi can aid in alleviating symptoms of chronic arthritis.

Can meditation cure joint pain? ›

Several studies show that mindfulness meditation is one of the most effective forms of meditation for arthritis. This meditation technique is about being fully present in the moment and acknowledging thoughts, feelings and sensations in an open, nonjudgmental way.

Can meditation help inflammation? ›

Summary: People suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma — in which psychological stress plays a major role — may benefit from mindfulness meditation techniques, according to a new study.

How can I lower my RA factor naturally? ›

Natural remedies
  1. Stretching. Stretching the muscles around the affected joints can provide some relief from RA symptoms. ...
  2. Exercise. ...
  3. Heat and cold. ...
  4. Balanced rest. ...
  5. Stress relief. ...
  6. Cognitive behavioral therapy. ...
  7. Support groups. ...
  8. Assistive devices.

Is ghee good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Ghee is the food you need if you have joint pain, arthritis. It helps in soothing inflammation, lubricates joints and reduces joint stiffness caused by arthritis.

What happens when you lift your legs for 15 minutes? ›

Increases circulation

Elevating your legs can help improve circulation by reducing pressure in the leg veins and redirecting blood flow back toward your heart. This can also help with lymphatic drainage and fluid buildup to help reduce leg swelling ( 9 ).

What happens when you raise your legs for 20 minutes? ›

In fact, just 20 minutes of the exercise is considered helpful to calm the nervous system and lower stress and anxiety, if any. When blood circulation increases in the body, it elevates the venous drainage, relieves tension or fatigue from the legs, feet and even the hips.

Can I do legs up the wall in bed? ›

You can even do it from your bed as long as it's against a wall — it helps set the stage for total relaxation by regulating and promoting the parasympathetic nervous system to take over and allow you to rest and recover, says Dr. Butner. Legs-up-the-wall doesn't require any equipment (unless you use a prop).

Videos

1. Rheumatoid Arthritis - Lifestyle Options | Johns Hopkins
(Johns Hopkins Rheumatology)
2. Yoga for Rheumatoid Arthritis (Practical Session)
(Arthritis Society Canada)
3. Yoga for Arthritis : Modifying Yoga Poses for those with Arthritis
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4. How Yoga Can Help With Arthritis
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5. Morning exercises tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis!
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6. Yoga for Rheumatoid Arthritis
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