An exhausted woman curled up on a yoga mat while pain radiates from her back

Yoga Was Not For Me

As a person who lives with a few different chronic conditions, I find once I reveal them to people, I'm usually met with unsolicited advice. How about you? The practice of yoga has been one recommendation suggested to me for years.

I was adamant that yoga was not for me. In my mind, yoga was only for thin, bendy people who could twist themselves into pretzels. Spoiler alert: I was wrong. Yoga is definitely for everyone, regardless of age, weight, or flexibility level. I just didn't know it yet!

A devastating first experience with yoga...

My first experience with yoga took place just under a year from the time I was diagnosed with PsA, and it was awful. I had zero flexibility. Forget balance. My body wanted to topple over no matter what position my body was in.

This was so bizarre. I had been practicing pilates for a year before my symptoms escalated. While the other women were exiting the class with smiles on their faces, I had tears in my eyes. It took three days for my body to recover from that one class. People said it would get better. I replied that yoga was not for me.

What I've learned? If you're considering doing a yoga class for people with arthritis, be sure to do your research first and find a knowledgeable and experienced teacher working with this population. Otherwise, you may end up having a similarly negative experience.

My yoga journey continued with no success!

A decade later, I tried again. But this time with a DVD program that I could do from home. Although I was only in my 40s at the time, the program I chose was for senior citizens. I couldn't go wrong with a class designed for the elderly, right? Wrong!

Even with a chair and a program aimed at the older generation, I found that yoga still wasn't for me. Sitting on a chair was no better than sitting on the floor. So, my journey of yoga is not for me continued.

What I've learned? There are many different forms and benefits of yoga. While I may have been wrong in saying that yoga wasn't for me, I was also correct. The reason yoga hadn't been for me was that I hadn't found the form of yoga that was right for me.

Making yoga work within my PsA management

Finally, after two decades, I found my type of yoga. It's a form of yoga that works best for my body, chronic illnesses, life, and budget. A form that, instead of crying when the session ends, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle my day. It's also a form that I look forward to doing every day.

Except for severe flare days, I practice sofa yoga from my bed every morning. Practicing yoga from my mattress or sofa puts no pressure on my most damaged joints and bones. Bad knees and pain from past broken toes prevent me from kneeling on hard surfaces, but it is not an issue on my bed or sofa.

What I've learned? Thanks to sofa yoga, my flexibility has improved, which has increased my score on Web Slingers at Disneyland. I am also slowly losing weight, and my digestion has improved.

Still looking for a yoga practice that works for you?

It has taken over 20 years to find my type of yoga. Here's a tip to help you find yours. Acknowledge your worst pain points. Do hard surfaces trigger pain in those areas? If so, eliminate every type of yoga you have heard of and try sofa yoga! If not, research each type and try those that best meet your needs.

If you've ever had a bad experience with a health-related activity, you know how discouraging it can be. But I encourage you, don't give up! Keep trying until you find an activity that makes you feel good – whether it's yoga, swimming, or another form of exercise altogether. You're worth it!

Have you tried yoga? If so, what type does your body respond best to?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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