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Arthritis Today

Beginner Yoga: 10 Tips to Help You Get Started

How to choose a yoga class that’s right for you.

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Looking to join a yoga class? Many recent studies show regular yoga practice can ease pain and improve function in people with arthritis, making it an ideal gentle workout.

If you are not interested in the mind-body connection or meditation aspect of yoga, but more on the physical poses and flexibility benefits, find an instructor or class that focuses on what you need.

Here are some suggestions for finding the right yoga class if you have arthritis.

  • Find an instructor who makes you feel comfortable and will modify poses to your needs.
  • If just starting yoga, tailored classes for seniors or those billed as gentle may be preferable.
  • Make sure props, such as blocks, mats and towels, chairs or supplies are available at the class.
  • Ask ahead of time what supplies you may need to bring, such as your own mat.
  • Smaller sized classes are preferable as you may need the instructor’s attention to modify poses.
  • Take one class before committing to a series of classes.
  • Take a friend or spouse with you if possible – exercising with a partner motivates you to stay with it.
  • Choose Iyengar yoga or other gentle forms of yoga over Bikram, Astanga, Body Pump or power yoga.
  • Do 60 percent of what you feel capable of doing at first, and then build up the degree of stretching or speed.
  • Avoid poses that involve balancing on one foot, like the tree pose, or bending the knee more than 90 degrees, like the frog pose. Modify these poses to fit your flexibility limitations.
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