What is osteoarthritis?
In 2017, more than 30 million people in the United States suffered from the debilitating effects of OA according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition, also known as degenerative arthritis, is characterized by breakdown of the cushy cartilage between bones. The loss can turn simple movements such as going downstairs, getting up from a chair, or simply walking around the house into agony.
Could a simple yoga program ease pain for arthritis sufferers and get them on their feet again? A group of researchers led by Juyoung Park, PhD at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton tested a simple program called Sit ‘n Fit Chair Yoga for eight weeks in a group of 131 seniors with osteoarthritis. The moves incorporated breathing exercises, stretches, and relaxation. The results were recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
Half of the seniors did the program twice weekly, while the rest took health education classes. After the eight weeks, the yoga group reported less pain and fatigue, and they were able to walk more easily. Study co-author Ruth McCaffery, a doctor of nursing practice, says the findings are valuable because the program provided a safe exercise option for persons with OA who were unable to participate in standing yoga or other types of exercise.
Dr. McCaffery points out that nearly 50 percent of Americans will suffer arthritis, and chronic pain is the most common problem. “Chair-based yoga is a therapeutic way to combat the symptoms of OA without drugs and other medical intervention,” she says. Try the moves below, and remember that you can put also chair yoga to good use at the workplace for a mid-afternoon energy boost.
Alternate nostril breathing
Yoga places a large emphasis on breathing and chair yoga is no different. Concentrating on your breath will prepare both your mind and body by easing stress. We’re not typically deep breathers; learning mindful breathing techniques can allow you to tap into the relaxing properties of filling your lungs.
Find a chair that you feel secure in. Sit upright, relax your shoulders and place the index and middle finger of your right hand on the bridge of your nose between your eyes as an anchor. Place the thumb and ring finger on either side of your nostrils. Close your right nostril with your thumb and take a deep breath through the left nostril. Hold for a moment, and then pinch your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat, inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right. Continue to alternate for about 30 seconds.