Around 1 in 5 people in the UAE suffer from Arthritis, which is an inflammation of the joints causing pain, swelling and stiffness. This condition is often misdiagnosed and overlooked by the community, however it is important to raise awareness for this disease, as it can lead to a loss in the patient’s mobility and ease of movement and can eventually affect and disrupt their daily lives. Compared to a group of patients who indulged in other forms of exercise, it was found that the group that practiced yoga improved significantly in just 12 weeks. Some were able to reduce their medications.
Various research has proved this mind-body activity as a good medicine for arthritis. Among the most recent evidence, it states continuous practice of yoga has helped individuals reduce disability, ease swollen joints, decrease arthritis pain and improve flexibility without causing adverse effects.
Dr. Humeira Badsha, Consultant Rheumatologist and Board Member at Middle East Arthritis Foundation highlights the importance of exercises and stretching to ease the pain and increase mobility for patients. Yoga falls under the umbrella of stretches that can be done in the comfort of your home itself, making it easy for all the patients. Regular stretching is an important element of the process for managing Arthritis, thus yoga can seamlessly relieve that.
Types of Yoga for arthritis patients –
Viniyoga is a therapeutic style of yoga. Typically practiced in private, one-on-one sessions with a yoga instructor, poses in Viniyoga are highly adapted for arthritis patients as compared to how they may appear in other yoga traditions. Generally, the following sequence is prescribed for arthritis patients –
- seated and supine yoga poses
- breathing exercises (pranayama)
- final relaxation
Power Yoga is a vigorous and fast-paced practice that modifies poses from various practices, such as Ashtanga and Bikram, and provides a cardio workout in addition to strengthening and stretching.
A vinyasa is a smooth transition between asanas in styles of modern yoga as exercise such as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Bikram Yoga, especially when movement is paired with the breath. Classes are good for building and maintaining muscle-muscle that help support arthritis joints.
Hatha is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.
Most yoga classes will provide the opportunity to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and mobility, decrease pain, increase your awareness of body posture and by relaxing using breathing exercises. These benefits can lead to less arthritis pain, increased joint range of motion and better joint function.
It is important for Arthritis patients to note that it is crucial that they do not remain inactive, as this is a factor that can lead to further deterioration of their condition. Regular exercise and stretching will be quintessential in an improved quality of life. This in turn, will lead to better mental health and emotional well-being.
When living with arthritis, it is essential to stay informed on everything you can do to best cope with the disease. To empower arthritis patients, Dr. Humeira Badshah, the founding member of the Middle East Arthritis Foundation & a well-renowned Rheumatologist, has written a thoughtful book titled “The Wellness Guide to Arthritis”. This beneficial book can guide readers with the different forms of arthritis and their symptoms to look out for, up-to-date information on new treatment methods, approaches to coping with pain, everyday tips to manage the side effects, along with inputs from Arthritis Warriors on real-life coping strategies.