We have always known that yoga can improve our strength, our flexibility and even our mood. What we didn’t know is that gentle yoga can actually reduce joint pain, which can be very beneficial for those suffering from psoriatic arthritis.
Yoga is more than conquering challenging poses and improving flexibility. It is the art of meditation, breathing, and relaxing to connect the mind, body and spirit. While yoga is often recommended as a practice to reduce stress and improve core strength, as discussed in a new article in the National Psoriasis Foundation’s publication Psoriasis Advance, yoga is now being recognized for its substantial effect on those people that suffer from chronic pain, including those suffering from psoriatic arthritis. In fact, more and more research is demonstrating just how beneficial yoga can be as an instrument to reduce and manage chronic pain.
In 2010, Kimberly Carson, a yoga therapist at Oregon Health & Science University (OSHU) and her husband James Carson, an OSHU psychologist demonstrated that gentle yoga and meditation led to a significant decrease in the pain and fatigue of women with chronic pain and fibromyalgia. Carson found that the sensation of pain is heightened when the muscles are constantly contracted as a way to guard against the pain. Through yoga and mindful breathing, movement and circulation can be increased and strength and mobility improved. The Carsons’ results were published in the journal Pain.
They suggest 15-20 minutes a day of yoga and meditation in order to see a significant reduction in pain levels. Here are a few of the suggested exercises for those new to Yoga:
- Table to child’s pose sequence:
From the traditional table top pose on hands and knees with a flat back slowly move back to straighten out the arms in front while folding back on the feet as you move into child’s pose. Inhale and exhale slowly as you move back and forth through the poses.
- Warrior pose sequence:
For the warrior pose stand with your feet several feet apart and arms straight out to the sides at shoulder height. To start on the right side look over your right hand and point the right foot in the same direction. The left foot is slightly angled toward the right. Inhale as you bend the right knee and move into a lunge and exhale as you push back to straighten the legs. Repeat on the other side.
- Seated shoulder stretch sequence:
While sitting up straight in the chair relax the shoulders away from the ears and stretch both arms out in front and interlock the fingers with palms facing away from the face. Inhale the arms up over the head keeping the shoulders away from the ears, release the hands at the top and exhale the arms back down to the sides of the body. Each time you inhale the arms up, try to get a little more range of motion in the shoulder joint.
In addition to relieving participants of some of their chronic pain and psoriatic arthritis, yoga also helps improve mood and promote more restful sleep.
For more information and links to instructional videos, please visit the National Psoriasis Foundation’s website by clicking here.