Best Yoga Poses for OA
Yoga can bring great benefits, but it’s not totally without risk. You have to make sure you’re doing the right postures – with the right form – in order to avoid injury and reap the rewards.
First, it’s important to start with a trained instructor who has some experience working with people who have arthritis or a related condition. You will likely need to modify some conventional poses to make them more comfortable, and your instructor can show you just how (and when) to do that.
When it comes to choosing a yoga practice, opt for a beginner Hatha yoga class, or one of its offshoots, like Iyengar, Krippalu, or Viniyoga. Here are some of the postures you should expect to try in class:
- Mountain pose
- Warrior pose
- Standing forward bend
- Standing side bend
- Cat cow
- Staff pose
- Seated spinal twist
- Diaphragmatic breathing
Generally, you’ll work from standing poses down to seated poses on your mat, and finish with shavasana, or corpse pose. There’s always the option to take a break in child’s pose or simply lay down on your mat during the routine, so don’t try to push through the pain.
The core of a good yoga practice involves careful movement and precise breathing (known as pranayama). Don’t discount the power of your breath – learning to control and balance your inhalations and exhalations is the best way to reduce your stress and improve your mood.
Postures and Practices to Avoid
In terms of prohibited postures, there’s a simple and straightforward rule to follow: if it hurts, stop. Any posture can be problematic if you take it too far, but for those with OA, back bends can be particularly hazardous. It’s important not to twist too much, bend too far, or push too hard in any pose, and it’s best to work under the watchful eye of your instructor to make sure you stay in a safe zone.
Once you get comfortable with yoga, you can begin to do some postures in the comfort of your own home, but you’ll want to work in front of a mirror to watch your form. Better yet, work with a yoga video that’s geared to arthritis sufferers – there are plenty available online, or else your yoga instructor will be able to suggest a suitable video for your fitness level.