We often underestimate the importance of our joints. We tend to worry when our organs and systems get ill much more. But if we fall prey to arthritis, only then do we realize how incapacitating it may get. Arthritis is commonly associated with inflammation or swelling in the joints. It results from the deterioration of soft tissues that cover and protect the joints. When this happens, the bones rub against each other and it gets very painful. Because it is considered a deterioration caused by the pressure of gravity on the joints – the wear and tear of life, Yoga is perhaps one of the best ways to deal with it. While you can’t completely heal arthritis with Yoga, you can alleviate the pain and reduce the inflammation significantly. Keep in mind, that the hidden cause of this disease, however, is the excess of uric acid deposited in the joints. Also, arthritis is sometimes correlated with poor bone and muscle health, disproportionate body weight, hereditary, or simply unhealthy lifestyle.
I have been suffering from arthritis in the right hip, due to a labrum tear for many years now, and quite frankly nothing beats Yoga and proper nutrition when it comes to dealing with this condition. It took me a while to strike the right balance between diet and exercise. But once I did I was able to keep the condition at bay.
The first thing I did was to cut on acidic foods, because arthritis is actually caused by acidity in the joints. I started checking my pH levels regularly and made sure I ate lots of fresh fruits, green salads, steamed and baked vegetables, boiled pulses, and sprouted grains. I indulged in avocado, and savored a teaspoon of cold pressed olive oil every morning. As a dietary supplement I found the green oyster from New Zealand and combined it the herb Boswellia Serrata – which in six months worked wonders. I also made sure, that the supplements contained Collagen Type 2 and hyaluronic acid, which are the building blocks of inter-articular cartilage.
Once my diet was set, figuring the Yoga routine was the greatest challenge. I had lost the normal motion range of the hip and most of the hip stretches were no longer available. The most important tip for alleviating arthritis is to build muscle strength before gaining flexibility. So I paired up empowering standing poses with static pulsing to build up the quadriceps – the muscle that holds both the knee and the hip joint. It took a lot of resilience as my advanced yoga practice was primarily focused on deep tissue stretching and not so much on strengthening. But in two months I noticed the difference. My gait was lighter, the clicking in the hips diminished, my posture and muscle efficiency had improved, and as a result, the pain in my hip had almost subsided.
The standing poses stabilized the joints, the deep twists and inversions provided an inner massage of the glands and helped regulate the levels of uric acid in the body. As I did my restorative practice I noticed the need to modify it from static holding of poses, to dynamic pulsing in positions. This approach increased the range of motion, helped lubricate the joints and prevented bones in the spine to fuse over time – a condition known as “spondylitis”. As I strengthened through dynamic repetitions and stretched to promote myofascial release that rusty feeling in the joints vanished, and I could articulate freely with my limbs. I enjoyed mainly hypo-glycemic foods and my weight dropped naturally.
I also made sure I fast twice a year on fresh fruits, to enhance the cleansing capacity of the lungs, skin, liver, and kidneys, and helps relax the nervous system. The other challenge was to limit my consumption of milk and dairy products because they contain a protein that irritates the tissues around the joints. Instead, I indulged in vegetable proteins like nuts, beans, lentils and quinoa.
Also, I highly recommend, if you have an Ayurvedic doctor that you can trust ask for a “Panchakarma” treatment which will help you reduce joint inflammation through natural techniques such as detoxification, oil bath, sauna, and application of herbal pastes on the joints.
And the magic additive – drink plenty of spring or filtered water to wash away all impurities and promote the production of synovial fluid that bathes the cartilage and increases the range of mobility in all joints.
And remember, complaining about the pain makes things worse. You attract the energy of disease and you label yourself as “suffering from”. Don’t play the victim! Know that your body has the perfect ability to heal itself, if you listen to it, and if you find the right combination of herbs, supplements, nutrition and exercise. And most importantly, keep affirming positively seeing your joints supple and mobile as you perform all the favorite activities and you do the things you love.
Oh, and smile. A radiant face every day, keeps the doctor away!
Arthritis Alleviating Yoga Routine: Combo Flex (open level)
This Yogea routine comprises a compendium of poses and breathing techniques that instruct proper posture, lubricate the joints and decrease the uric acid that causes swelling and inflammation. Deep breathing brings vital energy into the intervertebral disks and boost the production of synovial fluid in the articulating cartilage. Special accessible poses stretch the joints and strengthens the muscles that support them. Each pair of joint is addressed simultaneously through a wide variety of actions – flexion, extension, supination, pronation, rotation and torsion so you can increase your movement range and amplitude. Hip and shoulder openers target the health of the ball and socket joints; knee and elbow strengtheners stimulate the hinge joints while wrist and ankle rotations lubricate the hands and feet. A seated and reclining wind down emphasizes spinal twists to decompress the spine, and forward bending hip and shoulder openers to cultivate right posture. Gentle circles of all the joints in a supine position bring awareness into every joint. A relaxing meditation releases accumulated tension and uses imagery to reduce inflammation and revives the power in the joints to articulate and move with control and abandon.