Easing Into Simple Yoga
Last updated: March 2018
"Have you tried yoga?"
If I got a penny for everytime someone said that to me, I could hire a personal yoga instructor. The moment you mention having psoriatic arthritis, everyone suddenly becomes a yoga enthusiast and insists it's the cure! However, I do have a confession: I agree that yoga can be an excellent form of exercise for people with arthritis.
While I certainly don't think it's a cure-all, I personally have benefitted from movement and stretching when possible. While the simple yoga poses I've learned haven't cured me, they have helped me learn to hold my body less tensely when I'm in pain. What's more, yoga has encouraged me to be more aware of what my body is trying to tell me. Often, that message is to move before I get too stiff!
My rheumatologist constantly use to endorse the benefits of yoga to me, and eventually I listened. But even though my doctor encouraged it, they did urge a lot of caution: don't push beyond my limits, don't do something that hurts, and take it slowly. There were times I checked with my doctor or a physical therapist before trying a new pose. I urge you to do the same if you choose to pursue yoga!
Finding a class
For me, practicing yoga poses wasn't the hardest part; it was finding classes that worked for me. I've joined and left classes, and I'm not afraid to observe until (or unless) I feel up to it. I've found it hard to keep up with the pace and energy of most classes. For that reason, I decided to practice yoga at home once I was trained in how to do several poses properly. However, you may be able to find studios and classes that cater towards healing and meditation.
I know more young people with chronic pain who attend yoga classes at senior centers than you'd imagine. However, it makes sense: those classes were designed for people with joint issues! You may find it a bold move, but I highly recommend checking out your local senior center for classes. Most people I know who have reached out have had only positive experiences.
The internet is filled with wonderful resources for yoga. Not only can you find teachers and studios, but you can also find video tutorials. I highly advise using caution before trying poses at home and consulting your doctor or physical therapist first. But it can help to learn simple poses and practice before entering a class, that way you know what to expect. It's also an affordable way to do yoga without a class, which can be pricey.
Learning to relax
There will be times where doing yoga isn't always possible. As a full-time student on a tight budget, I often struggle to find the time or resources to dedicate to yoga. Flares are also a time I'm hesitant to stretch. However, I try to squeeze it in where I can - sometimes just sitting up straight as possible (sometimes it's impossible), resting my arms, and taking deep breathes helps. It might not sound like much, but it has made a big difference.
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