RA is the result of excessive inflammation in the body that causes it to start destroying itself. RA mostly affects women from their late 30s to their 60s, causing severe pain and joints such as the hands starting to become gnarled and twisted.
Exercise is essential for those with RA. Yoga is a safe, low-impact weight bearing exercise that can help keep your joints strong, and reduce inflammation too. Here are some very useful poses for arthritis anyone can do. They are also ideal for beginners who want to maintain their flexibility. We have put it into a flow sequence because it is so important to help you keep moving even with arthritis.
This is the basic standing position in yoga. Even though it might seem simple, it is a weight-bearing pose good for bones and joints. Plant your feet solidly, even weight on both feet, back straight, abdominal muscles engaged, arms relaxed. Use this pose for warm up, long deep breathing, or a starting or finishing pose in a flow sequence.
From Mountain, raise your arms up in the air, and your butt downwards, bending at the knees as if you were going to sit on a chair. Hold this pose as long as you can, then come back up. Do 2 or three and move back to Mountain.
From Mountain, step one leg out to the side widely as if doing a jumping jack without the jump. Using the arm on the same side of the body as the outstretched leg, bend sideways to try to grip the leg or ankle. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 2 more times. Then return to Mountain and step out with the opposite leg and bring the opposite arm down.
Standing Forward Bend
From Mountain, fold your body over from the pelvis as if trying to touch your toes and bring your head to your needs. Hold and breathe. Wiggle if you need to. Then bend your knees to sit cross-legged, Easy pose.
Kundalini Spinal Twists
In Easy pose, place your hands on your shoulders, right hand to right and left to left, thumbs at the back, the other 4 fingers at the front. Inhale and twist slowly to the left. Exhale and twist slowly to the right. These are Kundalini spinal twists, also referred to as the Washing Machine because you look like the central agitator in a top-loading washing machine as you move back and forth. This is great for flexibility and detoxification. Work at your own pace. You should gradually be able to improve your range of motion and pick up speed.
This is also known as Butterfly pose. Sit on the floor and bend your knees, opening then to the sides so the soles of your feet touch. Move them in closer or further away from the body, whatever feels most comfortable. Breathe into the pose and hold it for about 30 seconds. You can gently move the knees up and down, but never try to shove them down.
Bound Angle Pose
From Cobbler/Butterfly, grip your big toes by wrapping your index fingers around them. Lean forward so your back is straight but your body is now leaning towards your knees. Hold and breathe, then release and shake out the legs and knees before moving on to your next pose.
This is a pair of poses always done together to stretch the spine and build solid core muscles. Come onto your hands and knees with your head up. This is Cow pose. Now bring your head down and arch your back like an angry cat hissing. This is Cat pose. Move from Cow to Cat, Cat to Cow, at your own pace, feeling the effects on your back. Start slowly and don’t try to overdo it. Gradually, you should start to notice your range of motion improve and feel a lot less stiffness and pain.
These are most popular poses which can be used for a range of health conditions and as part of a good daily yoga practice for exercise. If you want to learn more about yoga for arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation has a list of useful videos to help you add yoga to your daily life safely and sensibly.