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Benefits of Yoga for the Arthritis Patient

Mind-body movement practices with origins in eastern philosophy and culture are receiving a great deal of attention recently. For many adults, yoga, t’ai chi, qi gong, and various dance forms are joining the treadmill and exercise bike as ways to safely and effectively increase physical activity. Having arthritis should not prevent individuals from trying these alternatives to traditional exercise. However, for many people, yoga, in particular may bring to mind pretzel-like poses requiring considerable strength and balance. In reality, beginner yoga classes may provide simple, gentle movements that gradually build strength, balance, and flexibility – all elements that may be especially beneficial for people with arthritis. In this article, Steffany Haaz Moonaz, PhD and registered yoga teacher (RYT-500) will demystify yoga for arthritis patients and their providers. For her doctoral project, she worked with Dr. Susan Bartlett and Dr. Clifton Bingham in the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center to develop and test a modified yoga program for people living with arthritis. The results of this study have recently been published as well as a review about arthritis for yoga from our group that readers may find beneficial.