A branch of yoga developed by B.K.S. Iyengar that uses various poses, or asanas, to align the physical body as well as unite the body, mind, and spirit. Props such as straps, pillows, and blocks are often used to help people with limited flexibility perform the poses with minimal risk of injury. Iyengar yoga may be especially beneficial to people with arthritis by relieving symptoms, reducing stress, and promoting a general feeling of well-being.
People with arthritis often are told to engage in physical activity to build muscle to protect joints, increase energy levels, and decrease stress; however, many don’t stick with an exercise program and fail to get the exercise they need. A benefit of yoga is that people often find it a pleasant form of exercise, and consequently, they tend to stick with it.
Studies have shown that Iyengar yoga reduced pain and improved physical function in people with osteoarthritis (OA), and improved quality of life, pain disability, general health, mood, fatigue, acceptance of chronic pain, and self-efficacy regarding pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Most gyms, YMCA facilities, community centers, and senior centers offer yoga classes. Visit the Yoga Alliance website to find certified yoga teachers near you, and look for yoga books and DVDs at public libraries. If you’re considering yoga, talk with your health-care provider about any restrictions or physical limitations you need to consider before you begin.