Certainly, there is sufficient reason to worry when your joints ache, appear swollen, or seem to have lost their normal flexibility. These could be early symptoms of arthritis, which is a condition that affects nearly 180 million Indians.
The word “arthritis” is a combination of two words: “arth” (or joints) and “ritis” (or inflammation). Arthritis is an umbrella term for over one hundred diseases that are linked to joint inflammation. In this article, we will learn about arthritis in brief and how Ayurveda can help manage this condition better.
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are two common, primary forms of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA may be caused by deterioration of the cartilage that offers a cushion for your joints or the excessive strain you are putting on the joints each day. In contrast, RA is an auto-immune, infective condition characterised by inflammation of the joints, especially the smaller ones. When not handled in the right manner, RA can cause disfiguration of the joints. OA, on the other hand, is a degenerative joint disorder with no inflammation.
How Yoga Helps Arthritis
A common question asked by many is, can yoga help arthritis? The answer to this question is an overwhelming yes.
No matter what type of arthritis you may have, practicing yoga can surely work wonders for you. Studies have demonstrated that yoga helps in reducing the intensity of pain that stems from arthritis. Moreover, it strengthens the muscles of the joints and imparts more flexibility to your body. In addition, practicing yoga can help in better management of stress levels.
Yoga Poses for Arthritis
Some of the best yoga poses for alleviating the symptoms of arthritis are mentioned below:
Virabhadrasana or Warrior Pose: This pose strengthens the lower back, arms, and legs
Vrikshasana or Tree Pose: This pose improves balance and strengthens the back and legs
Marjariasana or Cat Stretch: This is an ideal and complete posture. It imparts strength and flexibility to the entire body, including the spine, shoulders and wrists
Setubandhasana or Bridge Pose: This strengthens the muscles of the back and efficiently stretches the spine, chest and neck
Trikonasana or Triangle Pose: This pose is extremely effective for back pain and sciatica. What’s more, it enhances physical equilibrium as well as stretches and strengthens the spine, chest and arms
Shavasana or Corpse Pose: This pose releases stress, offers complete body relaxation, and repairs cells and tissues. This is the most optimum way to balance Vata (or air element), which may worsen joint pain or cause imbalance in your body
Yoga Benefits for Arthritis
Yoga is the ancient Indian practice that manifests in diverse forms – poses (or asanas), breathing techniques (or pranayama), and meditation. When it comes to arthritis, yoga is proven to offer diverse health benefits by improving physical symptoms (such as stiffness and pain) and alleviating psychological problems (such as anxiety and stress). To experience yoga benefits for arthritis, you need to practice yoga regularly.
The myriad benefits of yoga for arthritis are mentioned below:
- Reduces joint pain
- Improves joint flexibility and function
- Eliminates tension and stress to promote enhanced sleep
- Improves balance
- Builds muscle strength
- Adds variety to your workout
- Helps you stay active
- Enhances the mind-body connection
Does Yoga Help with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
In Ayurveda, RA is known as Amavata, wherein the vitiated Vata and Ama affect the lining of joints, causing pain (Shula) and swelling (Shotha).
Diverse yoga poses may be beneficial for individuals with RA. Some studies have shown that stress can worsen the symptoms of autoimmune conditions, such as RA. Yoga is proven to be a great stressbuster, while simultaneously helping in the enhancement of muscle strength, posture, and flexibility, which are primary factors that affect those coping with RA.
The Final Word
Yoga can prove to an enjoyable and meaningful alternative to traditional exercise forms, such as aerobics, weight training, or aquatic exercise, while simultaneously offering key health benefits. Yoga plays an active role in eliminating stress and frustration, which result from the pain and disability caused by arthritis, thus inducing wellbeing and increasing positive feelings.
This article is reviewed by Suchitra Marwah