8 Gentle Yoga Moves to Help Rheumatoid Arthritis

Did you know yoga can reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain? Get the relief you need by trying these yoga poses.

Elizabeth Bell
Reviewed by
John Varga, MD

Yoga synchronizes various postures (asanas) and breathing methods (pranayama) to help release tension and produce a state of physical and mental peace. In addition to other benefits, yoga can help ease arthritic flare-ups, lower blood pressure and reduce body-wide inflammation. Here are some simple moves to get you started. As with all exercise regimens, check with your healthcare provider before you begin.

RA-Friendly Spinal Twist

Goal: increase spinal flexibility

Extend your left leg and cross your right leg over left knee, placing your right foot flat on the ground. Wrap your left arm around your right shin and place your right hand flat on the floor, near your buttocks for spine support.

Keep your neck long, chin level and gaze right. If you can, look over your right shoulder. Hold for several breaths and repeat on left side.

RA-Friendly Leg Cradling
Goal: release tension in buttocks

Extend your right leg with foot flexed. Bend your left knee, placing your left foot into your right hand. Keep your left foot flexed. Wrap your left arm around the outside of your left leg and gently rock from side to side.

Come to center and gently lean back, lowering your chin slightly toward your chest. Inhale and exhale. Release your leg, return to starting position, and repeat on the other side.

RA-Friendly Shoulder Stretch
Goal: release tension in the shoulders

Stand with your feet slightly apart to help you maintain balance. As you inhale, bring your left arm up to shoulder level. As you exhale, draw that arm across your body to the right, with your palm facing away from you.

Fix your gaze over your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale several times while in this position. Repeat on the opposite side. 

RA-Friendly Bound Angle
Goal: release tension in the inner groin

Bring the soles of your feet together. Keep your knees open. Leaning forward slightly, use your forearms to gently press your knees down. Keep your neck extended and your jaw relaxed. With every inhale and exhale, release tension from your body.

Repeat the move, inhaling as you lift from your abdomen and exhaling as you use your forearms to gently press your knees down.

RA-Friendly Child’s Posture
Goal: relieve back pain

Sit back on your heels with your forehead forward and arms extended. Inhale and exhale, releasing tension in your lower back.

Rest following each breath.

RA-Friendly Side Warrior
Goal: build endurance in legs and arms

Stand with your feet 3 to 4 inches apart. Align your right heel with the instep of your left foot. Align your hips and shoulders. Inhale, raising your arms slightly above shoulder level, palms down.

Bend your right knee, keeping it above your ankle. Keep arms strong but relaxed as you gaze at your right arm. Inhale and exhale as you deepend the lunge. Repeat with left leg. 

RA-Friendly Lateral Neck Stretch
Goal: release tension and increase circulation in the neck

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your sides, with your chin facing forward and level. As you inhale, bring your right arm up and over your head, gently clasping the left side of your head.

Draw your head to the right to gently stretch the left side of your neck. Inhale and exhale to release tension. Repeat the move using your left arm.

RA-Friendly Forward Bend
Goal: release tension in the back of the legs

Extend your legs with your feet flexed. Inhale as your raise your arms to shoulder level. Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, keeping your spine straight and placing your hands on your legs.

Keep your neck extended and in line with your spine. Inhale and exhale, releasing tension from your body.

April 2013