How yoga helps arthritis
The meaning of Arthritis: Arthra = joint, itis = inflammation. Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, which creates joint pain. Though there are many types of joint inflammation, the most common are Osteo arthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteo arthritis may be caused by overuse of the joints, aging of the joints, sustained injury and sustained gout. It usually affects the weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips, lumber and cervical spine. Meanwhile, Rheumatoid arthritis can be a genetic problem or can occur in people who carry excessive uric acid in their blood. These acid deposits in joints are more alkaline in nature, and cause swelling and pain. Improper diet, stress and an undisciplined lifestyle are also possible causes of excessive uric acid in the body.
Sometimes bad climate worsens arthritic conditions. Sustained arthritis problems lead to deformity and stiffness of the joints, and can gradually result in immobility. In acute cases where the joints become deformed, it is difficult to reverse. However the arrest of mobilisation and pain can be overcome with yoga.
The physical yoga exercises provide a systematic and gradual training to improve the range of movements. If the patient practises with a deep internal awareness, it doesn't just help to mobilise the stiff joints but can also prevent further deterioration. Although the damaged cartilage may not fully regenerate, further wearing out can be arrested.
In cases of chronically damaged joints with pain and deformities, the surrounding muscles may be very weak due to long periods of inactivity. Practising yoga with full internal awareness and regularity can help to strengthen these surrounding muscles and thus improve the joints' mobility. Breathing exercises that are a fundamental part of yoga increase the supply of fresh oxygen and purify the blood, helping to improve blood circulation to the cartilage. What's more, deep relaxation techniques can alleviate muscle fatigue.
According to yoga philosophy, there are two types of pain - stress-born and non-stress born. In both cases, yoga has proven to be an effective form of prevention and remedy.
We have five bodies - in yogic language they are called pancha kosa. Annamaya Kosa - physical body, Pranamaya Kosa - vital energy body, Manomaya kosa - mind body or astral body, Vijnanamaya Kosa - knowledge body, and Anandamaya Kosa - bliss body. The imbalance of these five bodies causes different ailments in the human body, resulting in psychosomatic diseases - one of which is arthritis. Through dynamic movement exercises, postures (asana), conscious relaxation (dharana), meditation (dhyana ), breathing exercises (pranayama), proper diet (yogic aahar) etc., yoga restores balance of the five bodies, thus improving the condition of arthritis, releasing its associated pain, and rebuilding self-confidence.
Just 60 minutes a day with yoga can keep you away from medicine and foster a healthy, happy, disease-free life.
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