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World Arthritis Day is a worldwide global awareness-raising day celebrated every year on 12 October since 1996. The day highlights the problems faced by people with different types of arthritis like osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis and calls on physicians and health professionals to connect to those people to provide them early diagnosis and treatment.
Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects over 180 million people in India. Arthritis is more common in women than men  . In this article, we will be discussing how yoga improves arthritis symptoms.
Yoga And Arthritis
As you age, the chances of joint pain increases and you start suffering from weak bones. Lack of exercise and essential nutrients can aggravate arthritis. Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for those who suffer from arthritis because it is a low-impact exercise that relieves arthritis pain by strengthening your muscles in the joints, thus increasing flexibility and maintaining bone strength.
A study has shown that yoga can benefit various types of arthritis and can help lower joint pain, reduce stress and tension, and improve joint flexibility  .
Another study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience found that doing intensive yoga practice for eight weeks could significantly decrease the severity of physical and psychological symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis patients  .
Yoga Poses For Arthritis
1. Warrior pose (Virabhadrasana)
This yoga asana aims at strengthening the joints, increases the blood circulation to the hips, shoulders, cervical region, and ankles. The warrior pose is also extremely beneficial in strengthening the arms, legs, and lower back  .
How to do:
- Stand straight with legs wide apart and turn your right foot out by 90 degrees and left foot in by 15 degrees.
- Lift both your arms sideways to shoulder height with your palm facing upwards.
- Bend your right knee and breathe out.
Note: High blood pressure patients should avoid this pose.
2. Bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana)
This yoga pose will help strengthen the knee muscles and is also helpful for those suffering from osteoporosis, asthma, sinusitis, and high blood pressure. The bridge pose calms the brain and reduces anxiety and stress in the body  .
How to do:
- Lie on your back, and fold your knees and keep your hip at a distance.
- Place your arms beside the body and slowly lift your lower back, middle back, and upper back off the floor when you inhale
- Hold the position for one to two minutes and release the pose when you exhale
3. Triangle pose (Trikonasana)
Triangle pose strengthens the knees, legs, and ankles. It also aids in stretching and opening the hamstrings, hips, and groins, shoulders, spine, and chest. The triangle pose can also bring relief from back pain and sciatica  .
How to do:
- Stand straight and separate your feet wide apart.
- Turn your right foot 90 degrees and left foot in by 15 degrees.
- Inhale and exhale deeply and allow the left hand to come up in the air and the right hand comes down towards the floor.
1. A warm-up exercise is necessary before you start this yoga asana.
2. Slowly and gently bend forward so that you don't lose balance.
4. Tree pose (Vrikshasana)
Tree pose makes the legs strong, improves balance and strengthens the hips. It also brings balance and equilibrium to your mind and helps improve concentration  .
How to do:
- Stand straight with arms by the side of the body.
- Bend your right knee and place it on your left thigh. The sole of the foot should be firmly placed.
- Take a deep breath and raise your arms over your head and bring your palms together.
- Exhale and release your hands and legs.
5. Cat stretch (Marjariasana)
The cat stretch yoga pose strengthens the wrists and shoulders, brings flexibility to the spine, improves digestion, relaxes the mind, and improves blood circulation  .
How to do:
- Kneel down in the form of a table so that the hands and feet form the legs of the table.
- Keep your arms straight and palms flat on the ground.
- Look straight ahead and inhale while you raise your chin and tilt your head back.
- Exhale and release your position.
6. Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra pain relieves upper back pain, stretches the spine, wards away stress and fatigue, stimulates the organs in the stomach, and soothes sciatica  .
How to do:
- Lie flat on your stomach and place your forehead on the floor and your feet flat on the ground.
- Now, exhale and lift your upper body - your head, chest, back and pelvis.
- Keep your hands straight on the ground and slowly breathe in and out.
Note: Do not do this pose if you have a wrist injury or back injury.
7. Corpse pose (Savasana)
This yoga pose reduces arthritis symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, and blood pressure. It also repairs the tissues and cells, releases stress and rejuvenates you  .
How to do:
- Lie flat on your back and close your eyes.
- Keep your legs apart and place your arms beside, a little spread apart from the body.
- Slowly relax your body and breathe slowly and gently for 10 to 20 minutes.
-  Akhter, E., Bilal, S., & Haque, U. (2011). Prevalence of arthritis in India and Pakistan: a review.Rheumatology international,31(7), 849-855.
-  Haaz, S., & Bartlett, S. J. (2011). Yoga for arthritis: a scoping review.Rheumatic diseases clinics of North America,37(1), 33–46.
-  Surabhi Gautam, Madhuri Tolahunase, Uma Kumar, Rima Dada.Impact of yoga based mind-body intervention on systemic inflammatory markers and co-morbid depression in active Rheumatoid arthritis patients: Arandomized controlled trial.Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2019;
-  Cheung, C., Wyman, J. F., Bronas, U., McCarthy, T., Rudser, K., & Mathiason, M. A. (2017). Managing knee osteoarthritis with yoga or aerobic/strengthening exercise programs in older adults: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Rheumatology international, 37(3), 389–398. doi:10.1007/s00296-016-3620-2
-  Kelley, K. K., Aaron, D., Hynds, K., Machado, E., & Wolff, M. (2014). The effects of a therapeutic yoga program on postural control, mobility, and gait speed in community-dwelling older adults. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 20(12), 949–954. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0156
-  Crow, E. M., Jeannot, E., & Trewhela, A. (2015). Effectiveness of Iyengar yoga in treating spinal (back and neck) pain: A systematic review. International journal of yoga, 8(1), 3–14. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.146046
-  Yu, S. S., Wang, M. Y., Samarawickrame, S., Hashish, R., Kazadi, L., Greendale, G. A., & Salem, G. J. (2012). The physical demands of the tree (vriksasana) and one-leg balance (utthita hasta padangusthasana) poses performed by seniors: a biomechanical examination. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 971896. doi:10.1155/2012/971896
-  Badsha, Humeira & Chhabra, Vishwas & Leibman, Cathy & Mofti, Ayman & Kong, Kelly. (2009). The benefits of yoga for rheumatoid arthritis: Results of a preliminary, structured 8-week program. Rheumatology international. 29. 1417-21. 10.1007/s00296-009-0871-1.
-  Bhandari, R & Singh, Vijay. (2008). A Research Paper on "Effect of Yogic Package on Rheumatoid Arthritis". Indian J Biomechanics. Special Issue (NCBM 7-8 March 2009).
-  Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Christian, L., Preston, H., Houts, C. R., Malarkey, W. B., Emery, C. F., & Glaser, R. (2010). Stress, inflammation, and yoga practice. Psychosomatic medicine, 72(2), 113–121. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181cb9377