Back in Style For Arthritis
Yoga has helped arthritic patients with improving
confidence, mood, self-awareness, range of motion, relaxation,
blood circulation, concentration, stress and pain reduction,
health of bones, tendons, muscles and joint ligaments.
Classes and instruction are often offered at health and
fitness centers; check out public library resources, too
(books, videos, audio cassettes, DVDs, etc.)
Not much is required to begin: pillows and a mat, some type
of blanket or carpet piece for padding and comfort. “Let’s Do
Yoga,” an article by Christina DiMartino published in
Arthritis Today, mentions six basic yoga positions that
offer a wide range of benefits (don’t perform any that cause
strain and remember to confirm with healthcare provider):
Mountain Pose –
This position is for helping develop posture.
With feet a comfortable distance apart, legs and knees
straight, stand and distribute weight evenly, tightening thigh
Keep pelvis in a neutral position, not arching the
back, not leaning forward, and expand ribcage by opening chest
Hold head comfortably straight with arms loosely
hanging at your sides, body vertically aligned.
– This position is for help with stretching the back and
neck, and for stomach stress, for improving digestion.
Begin by sitting in a chair, draping your torso over your
After strength and endurance build over time, gradually
extend this position by sitting on bent knees with feet and
toes straight behind you, and spread knees wide enough to allow
the torso to fall forward between your legs.
Gently release tension by inhaling and exhaling
slowly, falling forward, using pillows and blankets for padding
Down Dog Variation
– This position is for alignment, balance upper and lower
body strength and flexibility.
In a standing position, with feet parallel and straight
beneath the hips, pointed forward, face a wall.
Point knees straight ahead, bend them slightly and place
your hands against the wall, slightly higher than your
shoulders, shoulder-distance apart.
Gently drop your head forward till the ears are between the
elbows, while pressing with your arms and pushing back with
- This position aids in stress reduction, increasing
circulation and range of motion in the spine.
With hands and knees shoulder-length apart, squat down on
Breathe in slow, steady and deep while gently arching the
back, tilting the pelvis upward, and stretching the neck and
Exhale while tucking the head. Repeat, focusing on movement
and breathing coordination.
– This position stretches and opens the hip joints, massages
the sacral area and back, and stretches the spine.
In bed or on your mat or blanket, lie on your back with
knees bent and feet flat. Lift hips, shifting them slightly to
one side, and place knees one on top of the other, falling in
the opposite direction of your hips as you inhale.
Exhale, turning the head opposite the knees. Wait 30 to 60
seconds, then release. Then raise knees back to the center and
stretch in the opposite direction, using other side.
Tip: Beginners may want to extend one leg at a time
and bend and twist the other.
Deep Back Rest
– This position is to help with relaxation.
Usually the final pose in yoga classes and performed in bed
before sleeping, it aids in mind and body relaxation.
Flat on your back with feet comfortably apart and facing
out, place arms a comfortable distance from the body.
Face palms whichever way are most comfortable for your
wrists. And dim lighting or place something over your eyes.
Some people combine their favorite soothing music or sound
tracks, like nature or ocean sounds, with the positions. And
some vary lighting colors, depending upon the season and their
mental and physical health.
For more techniques and information, check with additional
resources from your public library and medical clinics. Check
with your healthcare provider about finding a physical
therapist to help with various exercises based upon your