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Vinyasa yoga (flow yoga)

During a Vinyasa style class, every movement and stretch coincides with an inhale or an exhale, linking the series of poses with the breath.

With arthritis in my left hip, lower back and pubic bone, what are the best yoga positions?

Stephanie Culen (New York, NY) on Sep 21, 2011
Arthritis results from the deterioration of soft tissues that cover and protect the joints. And, the most useful thing for your body is to bring some movement to those joints. Yoga poses and stretching can help strengthen your joints which is crucial in dealing with arthritis. It makes your joints function normally, thus reducing the risk of stiffness. Here are the some easy poses that can help. It is important to remember to stretch the upper as well as the lower body and breathe into the challenged areas for a full body awakening. Easy Pose (Sukhasana) The Easy Pose helps to straighten the spine, deepen the breath, prepare the body for movement and keep the mind still. It is a good place to start. If sitting on the floor in a crossed leg position is not possible, sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor, hands on the knees and breath with a lifted spine and open chest. Shoulder Stretches Shoulder Stretches are great in relieving stress and tension on your shoulders, as well as your entire upper back. Sitting in a chair or on the floor, roll your shoulders in one direction and then in the other direction. Do this a couple of times. Neck Exercises Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture, and tension headaches. Rotate the neck gently in circles from ear to ear and breathe into the sides of the neck. And breathe into the front and back of the neck. Do this several times. Standing Side Stretch Pose The Standing Side Stretch is a simple stretch for the upper body that helps to stretch out the lower back and hips, as well. Stand tall and stretch the arms upward from the chest and reach out to the side and down towards your knee. Take the hand to the knee of one leg and look up to the other arm extended. Breathe deeply. Do each side twice. Single Leg Raises Lying on your back, raise one leg up at a time while the other one stays on the floor. Keep the knees bent to soften pressure on the back. Hug the knees in towards the chest to transition sides. Repeat several times. Gentle Bridge Pose Lying on your back bring your arms down along side your body. Pressing into the feet raise your hips gently and stretch the front side of the body. This will especially help stretch the lower back. Raise the hips up and down several times with big inhalations and full exhalations. Try to lengthen the exhalation each time. Supine Twist On the back, draw the knees into the chest and drop both knees to one side of the body. Look in the opposite direction of the knees and breathe into the hips and ribs. Do both sides a couple of times. Relaxation Lie on your back with arms down alongside the body and legs wider than the hips. Breathe into the full body as if the full body is breathing. Keep your attention on the breath for as long as possible. When the mind wanders off the breath, bring it back to the breath saying the words INHALATION on the inhale and EXHALATION on the exhale. Stay with this for at least 5 minutes. Hope this helps!
Melissa Gutierrez (New York, NY) on Sep 21, 2011
Overall, whatever poses you do, work toward sharpening your awareness of movement in those arthritic spots. Yoga can help in so many ways. But certain poses, like hip openers that involve the hip joint proper, SI joints, and pelvis could cause movement in already inflamed areas that could feel painful or add to inflammation. Use props to support you in deep poses, like bricks for lunges and seated hip openers. Move into each pose with consciousness and respect for your limitations. Poses that could help are ones that calm your nervous system, which could help reduce inflammation and pain. Usually, teachers suggest forward bends for this kind of calming practice, but one could also use poses that are completely relaxed, but supported. Think Savasana with lots of props. Keeping calm could be instrumental to treating your arthritis and allowing you to safely advance in your practice.
Joyce Cobb (New York, NY) on Sep 21, 2011
Arthritis can be tricky. Yes there are positions that will help but which ones and what is the duration that we should stay in those particular poses? You may already know that movement is the best way to ease the pain of arthritis. Knowing that and practicing it is are two different things. Most of us don't take the time out of our busy lives for regular exercise. Arthritis sufferers are usually too deep in acute pain before they can do anything about getting out of pain through exercise when they get to that point. Practicing the Pawanmuktasana series on a daily, or at least 3 times per week basis can help prevent, treat and reduce arthritis pain. Here is an example that I found on the web: The best version is provided in my teacher, Mukunda Stiles' book "Structural Yoga Therapy". Yin Yoga is also a great help in this particular case, particularly to the areas in question, the hip and lower back. Please visit for advice on poses. With Yin Yoga, poses are held longer, bringing fresh blood and prana to the areas in need. This increases circulation and eases pain greatly. The length of holding the pose and working with the breathe is key. Namaste, Joyce
Mechelle Davis (Atlanta, GA) on Sep 21, 2011
The poses that I would suggest would be the easy pose, gate pose and cobblers pose. The easy pose (Sukhasana)will give a stretch to the back and thighs. The gate pose (Parighasana) stretches and strengthens the pelvic area as well as addressing the back. The Cobblers pose (Baddha Konasana)will really open and stretch the hips intensely. This last pose can be done sitting against a wall for support. Various forms of arthritis can cause pain in the lower back and other parts of the body. Some forms present more inflammation and daily challenges more than others. My suggestion would be to talk to your doctor about the type that you have and get a recommendation to participate in a yoga class. These postures are just a good starting point. More poses can be added as you experience the release of tension, tightness and stress held in theses areas of the body. Don't forget to focus on the breath and take nice full breaths and long exhales. Let the breath come to you easily and effortlessly. Try these for a start, modify as necessary. There are also lots of other poses that may also be beneficial to you as your progress in your practice. Namaste
Kim-Lien Kendall (New York, NY) on Sep 21, 2011
This would depend upon whether it is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The second is an auto-immune disorder in which your body's immune system attacks its own tissues (joints) and the first, which is more common, is caused by imbalanced "wear and tear". Osteoarthritis develops in a joint when two bones, which are not supposed to touch, are rubbed together, which stimulates the bones to grow. The excess bone growth causes joint inflammation. If it is affecting your left hip, this probably means that you are habitually keeping much more weight on one leg than the other to create this imbalance. Some good postures may be one-legged balance postures, such as tree pose, to first notice the imbalance and then try to correct it. Some hip openers may also help to create space in the hip BUT since it is most likely that only one side of the joint has the imbalance and the other side has too much space, it would be important to have a highly trained instructor evaluate your form so that you do not worsen the problem. I'm assuming that because you say you also have arthritis in your pubic bone, that it is the front of the hip joint where the arthritis is and that your quads and psoas are tighter on that side. Doing some lunges or warrior poses should help that as long as you make a point to lift your torso away from your legs. The lower back arthritis postures would depend upon which part of the vertebrae is affected. It always helps to have an instructor take a look at you.