A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Say ohm! Research shows that a low-impact yoga routine can have a big impact on RA symptoms. Here’s what you should know before unrolling your yoga mat. 

By
Katie Kerns
  • Increase your range of motion. People with poor flexibility can benefit from yoga as many poses increase the range of motion in your joints. West explains that this can ease inflammation and help reduce stiffness. 
  • Strengthen and lengthen. Yoga for RA can also strengthen and lengthen the muscles around the joints. Building muscle provides support for the joints, while lengthening the muscles and soft tissues creates more space in the joints.
  • Modify, modify, modify! Just because you have rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t mean your yoga practice has to be boring—it simply means you should modify the poses. Take the bridge pose, for example: “Instead of just pushing your bum up in the air, it’s very beneficial for people with arthritis to move up and down,” says West. “This motion lubricates your joints.”

If you’re experiencing an RA flare, double-check with your rheumatologist that your yoga practice is safe, and be extra mindful to avoid any poses that simply don’t feel good. And remember: The breathing and meditation aspects of yoga can be just as beneficial as twisting yourself into a pretzel. 

Published
April 2013