Yoga is one of the most ancient relaxation and meditation practices, dating back 5000 years all the way to ancient India. The main focus of yoga is to connect the body and mind and create a connection between the individual and their surroundings. The word yoga even originates from a Sanskrit word meaning “to yoke” or “to unite.” The primary goals of the practice are to help an individual realize true happiness, freedom, and enlightenment. Yoga has many secondary benefits such as improving physical health, enhancing mental well-being and even emotional balance.
Yoga has recently gained much popularity in the west, where yoga is normally void of its former spiritual context and solely practiced for its physical benefits. With this new following the benefits of practicing yoga have drawn attention not only from the general population but the scientific community as well. Several hundred scientific trials have been published, most giving the same results, saying that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity. These scientific investigations also mention that yoga has important physiological benefits because of its meditative nature.
So how does yoga tie into arthritis? Fortunately, arthritis is not exacerbated as a disease by exercise. In fact, exercise may play an important role in joint health seeing that those who don’t exercise often tend to suffer considerably more than those who do exercise. Arthritis can begin a downward spiral in some individuals where old age coupled with inactivity brings on the disease. Then as the new discomfort of arthritis worsens, it just encourages further inactivity. Once this unforgiving cycle starts it can lead to deteriorating muscle strength, physical energy, and endurance. That’s why physical activity is especially important for those with arthritis and even those who just have to buy two or three packs of candles for their cake this year.
Yoga is a practice that focuses on so much more than flexibility. The practice also emphasizes postural alignment, strength, endurance and balance, and incorporates breathing practices, as well as techniques such as relaxation or meditation. It can be practiced at any age and any level to accomplish a number of goals. There are an infinite number of things you can accomplish with yoga both mental and physical all tailored to your specific needs, arthritis included!