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Yoga for Arthritis: Lower Back

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Poses That Help Osteoarthritis of the Lumbar Region

Using yoga as an alternative therapy or as a complementary therapy for arthritis of the lumbar region can increase mobility and flexibility. These poses focus on strengthening and stretching the lower back, giving relief from the pain and stiffness of arthritis.

The body reaps health benefits from any level of expertise in the yoga poses; beginner, intermediate, or advanced. One of the gentlest styles of yoga and best for arthritis is Iyengar, which concentrates on form, and on holding the poses for strength. Anyone can do Iyengar yoga.

Iyengar yoga also uses props, such as blocks, straps, and pillows to help the practitioner engage in the poses. If a person cannot stretch far enough into a pose, then a prop may be used. The exercises should bring a feeling of wellness, and should never feel painful or uncomfortable.

Beginning Poses:

Persons doing yoga for the first time can do these poses.

  • Marjaryasana, Cat Pose.This gives a gentle stretch to the back muscles.
  • Utthita Trikonasana, Stretched Triangle Pose, also known simply as Triangle Pose. This pose stretches the leg muscles and relieves backache. Touch the knee if the ankle is too hard to reach.
  • Utthita ParsvakonasanaStretched Side Angle Pose. By stretching the back and legs, this pose helps relieve sciatic pain.
  • Viribadrasana I, II, and IIIWarrior Pose, I, II, and III. These poses strengthen the back and leg muscles, resulting in better posture. Standing properly can help reduce arthritis pain.
  • PaschimottanasanaSeated Forward Bend. Use a strap around the feet to help to stretch the back until the toes can be reached.
  • Uttanasana, Standing Forward Bend. Hold the elbows and hang forward from the hips with the head facing the knees. Let gravity pull on the spine.
  • Salabhasana, Locust Pose. This pose increases elasticity in the lumbar region and relieves pain.

Intermediate Poses:

These poses may be done once the person has mastered the beginning poses.

  • Parivrtta Trinkonasana, Revolved Triangle Pose. A more intense triangle pose, this strengthens the hips and back.
  • Parivrtta ParsvakonasanaRevolved Side Angle Pose. This pose increases circulation to the spinal area, while giving an intense stretch.
  • PaschimottanasanaSeated Forward Bend. Hold on to the big toe and try to rest the head on the knees.
  • Uttanasana, Standing Forward Bend. Touch the toes with the fingertips, gradually stretching to place the palms flat on the floor.
  • Ustrasana, Camel Pose. This pose stretches the entire spine and strengthens the buttocks and hamstrings.Place the toes on the floor, and the hands on the heels of the feet.

Advanced Poses:

These poses should be done only after the intermediate poses can be performed with strength and confidence. Continue to do the intermediate poses along with these three variations.

  • PaschimottanasanaSeated Forward Bend. Reach around the soles of the feet and clasp the hands together.
  • Uttanasana, Standing Forward Bend. Reach behind the ankles and clasp the hands together.
  • Ustrasana, Camel Pose. Place the feet flat on the floor, and the palms on the soles of the feet.

These poses are a starting point. A certified yoga teacher, or a book such as Light on Yoga, by B. K. S. Iyengar, are guides to more poses for arthritis. Done on a regular basis, these yoga sequences should help the arthritis sufferer.