Yoga For Arthritis & Joint Pain – Introduction to Asanas, Kriyas & Mudras
Arthritis is primarily of three types. Inflammatory
arthritis such as Rheumatoid arthritis affects usually the smaller joints. It can cause pain,
inflammation and swelling, ultimately leading to deformity. On the other hand, degenerative
arthritis such as osteoarthritis, usually affects the knees, the weight bearing areas
of the body. This is a painful condition that may make the person bed-ridden out of pain
and fear. The third type of arthritis is called gouty arthritis, primarily affects the toes.
It affects the joints of the big toe, and is due to the deposit of urate, that is Uric
acid crystal. Yoga can help the arthritic patient in many ways. It improves the tolerance
of pain. Some people feel that even a thorn prick is like a knife stabbing them, whereas
others can tolerate severe pain as if it is just a thorn pick. This lies in the mind.
Yoga helps tolerate pain better. If you can tolerate pain better, your life’s quality
is definitely improved. Yoga improves the movements at all the joints, the flexibility,
the mobility, the turn ability, ability to turn. This again improves the condition of
the arthritic patient. Arthritis such as Rheumatoid arthritis is
immune based. It is auto-immune, where your body’s immune system is fighting against you.
Yoga helps bring about normalcy of the immune system, thus improving that aspect of arthritis.
For the arthritic patient, simple units of movement called jathis where we start to rotate
or shake the wrist joint, the elbow joint, or the joint of the shoulder can be done.
When you are doing this practice, it is important to feel that you are letting go of all the
tensions that you have and are accumulated in your joints. One of the major problems,
is our tendency to catch hold of everything. We don’t like to let go. These type of practices
where we shake, then we catch and let go. This type of practice where we let go is so
effective. It is a gesture, it is a mudra in itself, where we let go. Where we let go
of the tensions, where we let go of the problems. There is a practice called the Nasaraga Mukha
Bastrika where we do this loosening, catching hold of the tension and letting go of the
tension, will help the arthritic patient a lot. In this presentation, we are taking a look
at the different practices to help improve the mobility, the flexibility of the different
joints of the body. The spine, the neck, the shoulders, and the elbows, the wrists, the
ankles, the knees and hips, all of these are exercised, by these practices. Practices such as the sheetali or cooling
breath, and sadanta pranayama help restore normalcy of the three doshas, especially the
vata, which the air element associated with joint disorders. Various relaxation practices
such as the kaya kriya, are also given in this presentation. These practices are excellent
musculo-skeletal relaxers bringing about psychosomatic union, restoring the link between the mind
and the body. You may not be able to do all of these practices
everyday. But I recommend, that you consult a qualified yoga therapist who can make up
a schedule from these practices based on your age, your gender, and your physical condition.
The regular practice of such a schedule of asanas, kriyas, mudras and relaxation techniques
will surely improve your condition tremendously. I wish you all the best in this wonderful
journey from the state of ill health to that of optimum health. Namaskar.