Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks the body’s tissues, mainly the joints, and can cause inflammation.
Chronic illness causes autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, which are caused by a persistent imbalance between pro- and anti-inflammatory immune pathways.
Inflammatory markers are increased in people with rheumatoid arthritis and these findings show that inflammatory markers may play a role in the occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, these inflammatory markers can be used to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis.
People with RA usually experience chronic pain, swelling, stiffness, reduced functional mobility, and loss of joint function. These symptoms not only cause significant disruptions to daily life but also cause deformities or disabilities. While there is no suitable treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, physiotherapy and anti-rheumatic medicines (DMARDS) can help delay the disease’s progression.
Nowadays, yoga for seniors with rheumatoid arthritis is becoming increasingly popular. Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that has long been promoted as a means of improving physical and mental health. Practicing yoga involves specific physical postures (asanas), breath management (pranayamas), concentration (dharana), and meditation (dhyana).
A randomized controlled trial was conducted to examine the effects of a Hatha yoga intervention for 8 weeks. When compared to their stretching–strengthening counterparts, individuals in the yoga group exhibited significantly improved performance on executive function measures of working memory capacity, the efficiency of mental set-shifting, and flexibility after 8 weeks of yoga practice in a clinical trial.
In randomized controlled pragmatic study trials, preliminary data suggest that a yoga program can assist sedentary adults with rheumatoid arthritis safely, increase physical activity, enhance physical and psychological health, and improve health-related quality of life.
Studies have reported individuals with work-related stress, combat stress, post-traumatic stress, etc. have demonstrated a stress reduction after practicing yoga. These findings are potentially relevant for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, as stress has been linked to inducing autoimmune disease and aggravating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
As a result, yoga has the ability to improve the physical functioning and mental well-being of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
5 Yoga Benefits For Seniors with Arthritis
The most significant benefits of seniors with rheumatoid arthritis who will be doing yoga include the following:
1) One’s Muscles will Improve their Physical Function
Rheumatoid arthritis patients most commonly affect the hands, ankles, and knees, limiting the range of motion and making daily activities difficult. This can lead to sedentary behavior and immobility, which can lead to additional health issues such as weight gain.
Yoga can help people move more freely and participate in physical activity without pain. The most significant benefit of yoga has been demonstrated to increase balance, hand grasp, flexibility, and strength. It can also reduce physical symptoms. These advantages make it easier for elderly people to walk, be active and participate in other physical activities, which improves their overall health.
2) One will Learn How to Listen to their Body
Listening to your body is important in yoga therapy, especially for arthritis patients. Our bodies’ pain constantly communicates with us through sensations rather than words. It continuously expresses its feelings, such as being hot, hungry, exhausted, or in pain. Despite our extremely personal relationship with our bodies, we frequently choose to ignore their messages. Instead, we strive to control our bodies by ignoring or dismissing bodily sensations.
It’s critical to understand and respect your body’s limits before beginning any physical activity, such as yoga. Of course, those limitations might shift over time, but tuning in and listening to what your body is telling you each time you practice yoga is critical not only to your health but also to the development of your practice.
3) Prana will Flow Freely
Our ability to focus and concentrate is strongly influenced by the quality and quantity of prana in our bodies. The fluctuations of thoughts and the variations of energy are connected in yoga philosophy. As a result, if one has mastered the control of prana, one can also master the control of the mind’s thoughts and become great at meditation.
4) Risk of Injuries will Lessen
Yoga is a fantastic complement to running, and when you practice yoga in your weekly exercise routine is a great way to avoid injury. This is very important for arthritis patients. Yoga intervention may prevent and repair injuries in addition to removing those nagging aches and chronic pains that tend to lodge into the body. Yoga reveals and corrects muscular imbalances that can lead to injury. Yoga, by its very nature, aids in the restoration of physical functions, symmetry and balance.
5) Joint Deterioration is Slowed
Many muscles in the body are used in most, if not all, of the postures and pose in a yoga practice. The muscles around your joints are strengthened as you work to hold and balance in various yoga poses. Stress and tension on your joints are reduced as stronger muscles support the body, which helps arthritis patients.
10 Different Yoga poses for Seniors with Arthritis
1) Seated Spinal Twist
Seated Spinal Twist is a rejuvenating yoga practice that improves digestion and spinal mobility. Twisting postures can assist relieve lower back discomfort by toning the belly, massaging the internal organs, and toning the belly. This pose, which is usually done at the end of a sequence, is both calming and stimulating.
2) Extended Leg Balance
This pose is suitable for both beginners and advanced yogis. There’s no chance of falling, and the posture is suitable for most healthy yogis, including pregnant women and those who get dizzy standing.
Yoga props such as yoga wedges or a blanket can be used to provide extra cushion and comfort for those with sensitive knees or wrists. Beginners can add extra stability by pressing the elevated foot against a wall. Balancing Table can be used by experienced yogis as a core activation exercise and as a warm-up pose for more challenging balancing postures.
3) Side Angle Pose
Side Angle Pose helps with balance, energy, and fatigue. It also strengthens and stretches the legs, hips, and hamstrings. It can help promote confidence and a sense of empowerment by improving posture and counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting and computer work.
Cobra Pose helps reduce back pain by increasing spine mobility, strengthening spinal support muscles, and opening the chest and front of the body.
5) Forward Fold
To be executed to its maximum potential, this pose demands patience and practice. Your brain is calmed by lowering your head below your heart. Psychological stress, headaches, anxiety, exhaustion, moderate depression symptoms, and sleeplessness can all be relieved with this. It stretches and lengthens your hamstrings and calves as well. It helps to expand the hips and ease neck and shoulder strain.
6) Pigeon Pose
The yin yoga posture of the sleeping swan pose or pigeon pose is an excellent way to stretch your hips and lower back when you practice yoga. When done correctly, it can improve hip flexor and lower back muscular flexibility while also aiding digestion. Stretching these muscles on a daily basis can help relieve minor lower back and hip pain. Ayurveda states that these emotions are housed in the hips, thus some believe it might help with mental health.
7) Bridge Pose
Bridge pose improves posture and helps to prevent the effects of long periods of sitting and computer use. It can alleviate low back discomfort and prevent slouching and kyphosis (abnormal curvature of the spine). This posture stretches your abdomen, chest, and shoulders while strengthening your back muscles, glutes, thighs, and ankles.
Kapalbhati is one of the breathing techniques in yoga. Its name comes from the Sanskrit words kapal, which means “skull,” and bhati, which means “to shine.” This pose is an intermediate to advanced breathing technique that strengthens the chest, cleanses the abdominal organs, and energizes the circulatory and nervous systems. Kapalbhati is also a bodily cleaning therapy that cleanses the body of negative thoughts, stress, and toxins. It is a yoga practice that helps to detoxify the body.
9) Downward Dog
Downward dog, also known as downward-facing dog or down dog, is a standing yoga posture in which the yogi stretches their entire body on all fours, much like a dog does. The downward dog pose stretches the lower body and is a full-body stretch. The downward dog inversion allows you to stretch your hamstrings, calves, and ankles completely. It also helps to build upper-body strength.
Because downward dog is a weight-bearing exercise, it can help you strengthen your shoulders and arms. This yoga position also strengthens your abdominal muscles by engaging your abdomen. It also improves blood circulation.
Downward dog is a yoga stance in which your heart is placed above your head, allowing gravity to increase circulation and promote blood flow. It may aid in posture. Downward dog helps to align your spine and straighten your vertebrae, resulting in better posture. It strengthens your foot muscles.
The major muscles and bones of your body, as well as the lesser muscles in your feet, such as the plantar fascia, which connects the heel to the front of the foot, are stretched and strengthened in this position. This area of your body can be strengthened to help you walk more freely and avoid injury when participating in more strenuous physical activities.
10) Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is the most basic restorative yoga pose, and it’s a terrific way to stretch different parts of your body gently. It’s a chance to take a breath, reflect on your circumstances, and prepare yourself to move forward. After joint replacement surgery, a gentle stretch for the back, hips, thighs, and ankles can aid. It can assist in the alleviation of back pain.
Tips for Seniors before Getting a Yoga Class
You can enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of yoga at any age. Yoga’s stretching, breathing, and meditation techniques can be a great answer for seniors looking for a safe, effective way to improve their physical health and overall wellness.
Indeed, as you’ll see, practicing yoga on a daily basis can provide plenty of advantages for seniors, ranging from increased flexibility and balance to stress reduction and better sleep. To ensure the safety and efficiency of yoga postures and practice, proper form and technique are required.
Consult your doctor for professional medical advice before beginning yoga if you have past or pre-existing health conditions. You can adjust your posture to meet your specific needs.
How to Prepare for Yoga for Rheumatoid Arthritis
When you’re new to yoga, you’re sure to have a lot of questions about what to dress, what to bring to class, and how to get ready.
To begin with, planning is your friend. Relax, you don’t need a lot of time to prepare for yoga, but planning beforehand might mean the difference between a smooth and stressful transition from life to yoga.
Knowing what to expect and how to do things will make you feel more at ease during your first class. Here’s what you should know before you start your first flow.
1) Nourish Your body
Have you eaten anything? You shouldn’t eat for one or two hours before starting yoga, but you don’t want to pass out during your first practice. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a meal or you’re prone to low blood sugar, a light snack of fruit or coconut water is far preferable.
2) Plan Your Route
Second, make a journey plan. If you’re practicing at home, this is simple enough, but if you have any distance to go to get to the yoga studios, calculate how long it should take and, if feasible, double it. This means that unexpected traffic or last-minute disruptions shouldn’t derail your yoga plans or cause you to become stressed while traveling. If you arrive early, take advantage of the opportunity to meditate for a few minutes before the yoga session begins.
3) Change Clothes
Before class, change your clothes. It can be tempting to keep wearing the same clothing all day if you spend the majority of your time in yoga leggings. Putting on fresh, clean, comfy yoga clothes, on the other hand, provides a clear message to your brain that this is different and that you’re entering a new stage of your day.
4) Set up your Space
Get your mat set up as soon as you arrive at your class, and as you move to sit on it, slow down. Start paying attention to how you move. Close your eyes, roll your shoulders, and take some deeper, longer breaths. Allow time for yourself to shift from “doing” to “being.”
Allow this silence to serve as a punctuation mark at the start and finish of your regular yoga practice. Rather than rushing off to chat with a yoga friend, ask your yoga teacher a question, or phone your partner to let them know you’re leaving, linger a bit longer in the silence after class. Allow all you’ve done to sink in silently.
This is perhaps even more important than preparing for yoga. How are you assisting yourself in absorbing all of the practice’s significant benefits afterward? Transition out of the practice as peacefully as possible.
Doctors now commonly advise people with rheumatoid arthritis to keep as active as possible, and low-impact physical exercises such as yoga intervention are typically considered safe for those with joint pain.
If you’re thinking of taking a yoga class, make sure you complete your research first. Many senior centers offer yoga classes designed just for seniors, and these yoga teachers will be familiar with the postures that are most useful to them.
Try a beginner’s class such as that offered in Sweatbox Fitness and know your boundaries if any of the poses are difficult or painful. Yoga can help elders just as much as younger ones, regardless of their present fitness level.