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Yoga and Osteoarthritis

Yoga for Osteoarthritis
Yoga for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the typical forms of arthritis that results in limitations of functions, pain, and disabilities in older persons. There is a degeneration of the articular cartilage of the joint in osteoarthritis. It can feel very painful to move the joints especially during periods of inflammation. It occurs more in women as compared to men. Currently, there is no effective treatment or cure is available for it.

Yoga is a mental and physical exercise having roots in the traditional philosophy of India. Yoga training is based on the idea that combining mind and soul in exercise puts the body into equilibrium and facilitates healing. Yoga can help with management of pain, and increase mobility in the joints.

Do not practice yoga during periods or inflammation or when the student or client presents with too much pain. Modify the poses so that the student or client stays comfortable.

There are poses that are contraindicated for osteoarthritis, these are postures that place too much pressure on the weight-bearing and fragile joints of the hips, knees, cervical spine and lumbar spine. Keep these postures out of the yoga sequence or be careful to apply modifications as to not over burden the joint. The poses on the NO list are :

  • plough pose (may place undue compressive forces on the cervical spine),

  • neck circles with neck hyper-extension

  • Bridge - places excessive pressure on cervical disks and may cause disk compression and damage

  • Standing forward fold - unsupported forward flexion for prolonged period of time may place the low back at risk for compression of inter-vertebral disks

  • Back hyper-extension - may risk damage to the articular capsule and ligaments that surround the disk (cobra, knees chest chin)

  • Hip twists - high risk for overuse injury because the movement often exceeds the normal range of motion, injuries or strain to capsular structures is common

  • Janusirsasana, lotus, vajrasana, pigeon and such - places stress on medial ligaments of the flexed knee

  • Full squat - stresses ligaments and meniscus of the knee as well as the semilunar cartilage behind the kneecap

Here are some yoga poses to try. Always consult your doctor while undertaking any new activity. It is critical to pay attention to your body. Pause and relax or shift towards a more pleasant posture if you experience any intense discomfort, instability, or dizziness.

Bound Angle Pose

  • Start by sitting on the floor and straightening your legs towards your front.

  • Bring your heels inwards to your pelvis while bending your knees.

  • Knees should be bent to the sides, the soles of your feet should be pressed together.

  • Maintain the posture by keeping the outside borders of both feet on the ground.

  • Continue the posture by keeping the outside borders of your feet on the ground. Stay loose and don't push your knees downward. This position may last for approximately 5 minutes if you hold it for that long.

Mountain Pose

  • Just stand with your big toes contacting on the sides. (Your toes should be parallel to each other while your heals should be a bit away from each other.

  • Move your heels together up and down on the ground.

  • You can move backward or forwards or side to side to find the appropriate posture. The objective is to evenly distribute your body weight on both feet. With a neutral spine, remain standing.

  • Lower down the arms and keep your palms outward. Hold on for one minute with continuous breathing in and out.

Staff Pose

  • Rest on the ground with closed legs, and extend them towards your front.

  • By leaning against a wall, you can make sure you're in perfect alignment. Your shoulder blades must be parallel to the wall, but not your head or lower back. Strengthen your thighs by squeezing them down and twisting them inward.

  • Bend your ankles while pressing out with your heels.

  • Hold on for about 60 seconds.

Warrior Poses

  • Warrior 1 :Stand with legs apart, toes and hips facing forward, bend the front knee, with the ankle aligned just under the knee. Lift the arms up, palms facing each other. Look up or forward. Focus on the breath or turn the mind inward.

  • For Warrior 2 : As with Warrior I but turn the hips to face the side and open the arms to the sides (front of the room and back). Look to the front

  • Peaceful Warrior : Lift the front arm up and bend sideways towards the back

Learning how to modify yoga postures for different conditions and body types is an essential part of the yoga teacher training/ formation prof yoga at Awake Space.

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