The practice of yoga can be challenging when living with rheumatoid arthritis. It's often difficult to get into and find comfort in poses when you're experiencing stiffness, pain, and inflammation in your joints. But the good news is that there are plenty of props you can use to ease yourself into positions or help support your body.
Here are five yoga props you can use to help improve RA symptoms and make your practice less painful.
There are tons of yoga props that can help you improve your RA symptoms and make your practice less painful.
- Props can be used to help you get into poses. If a certain pose is too difficult or uncomfortable, use a prop to make it easier. For example, if you want to stretch through your side body but find it hard to bend over without pain, try using a towel under both knees as support.
- Props can also be used to help hold poses longer so they become more effective at relaxing the body and relieving tension in muscles and joints. For example, when practicing bridge pose (which strengthens the back), place blocks underneath the shoulders for extra support so that the upper back doesn't arch too much or collapse inwards towards each other (which puts strain on joints).
- Finally, props can be used as tools for releasing tension from areas where there is inflammation such as around inflamed wrists or ankles during seated forward fold stretches because this allows blood flow which helps stimulate healing!
A foam block.
A foam block is a great prop to use when you're in a yoga pose. It's firm, yet comfortable and can be used to support your body in different ways. For example, it can be used to prop up your legs during seated forward folds or stretches for the hamstrings and calves. A foam block could also be used as an arm support during poses such as Chair Pose or Extended Mountain Pose (Tadasana). You can even use it as a back rest for Child's Pose (Balasana) or Crocodile Pose (Makarasana).
A yoga mat is another versatile tool that can help improve your posture and range of motion by providing better traction so you don't slip around during class when practicing standing poses like Warrior 1 or Warrior II if you have arthritis in the knees—or any part of the body!
A bolster pillow.
A bolster pillow can be used to prop up the knees, neck and head as well as both hips. This is great for those who have trouble bending to grab their feet because of stiffness or pain in their hands and arms.
Bolsters are also especially useful if you’d like to sit on a yoga mat but find it too hard in your current physical condition. You can place the bolster between your legs and rest back on it while doing seated poses or even lying down with props under each knee if that helps relax muscles more effectively than simply lying flat on the floor will do.
A strap or towel.
A strap or towel can be used to help with alignment, balance, stretching and strength. Here are some ways to use them:
- If you’re having trouble keeping your body in the correct alignment for a pose (i.e. if you’re not aligned properly), then place the strap between your hands and pull on it so that it creates more space in your shoulders, chest and hips. This helps open up tight areas that may be contributing to pain or discomfort while doing yoga poses (especially those involving forward bends or twists) because they provide additional support where needed while allowing freedom of movement where it isn’t needed as much (i.e., bending forward or twisting).
- You can also use a strap during balancing poses such as Tree Pose (Vrksasana) by placing one end across each shoulder so that both arms are supported by the straps throughout their entire range of motion—this is especially helpful if there are any issues with strength/stability like arthritis symptoms affecting one side more than another which could cause imbalance during this type of movement!
- Similarly, you could use these types of props when performing spinal twists where there might not be enough room between shoulder blades before reaching backward over head toward opposite shoulder blade (depending on flexibility level).
A wedge or roll.
Yoga props are great for stretching and strengthening muscles, improving range of motion and relieving stress. They also provide support for joints that may be weakened by RA, so using a wedge or roll can help alleviate muscle pain.
A yoga prop can be used in almost every pose to help deepen your stretch without straining your body. For example:
- Use a wedge under the knees in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to open up the hips.
- Use a roll under your back in Child's Pose (Balasana) to open up the chest, shoulders and hips.
- Put a small wedge under your head with legs straight out or bent at 90 degrees while lying on one side for hip opening, shoulder release or relaxation.
A chair or wall.
- When you need to support your back, legs and arms, use a chair or wall to help you do so. This allows you to use gravity as an assistive force when doing poses like Downward-Facing Dog and Chair Pose. Another option is to practice supported standing poses near a wall (such as Warrior I), with your hands on the wall for support if needed.
- A block or bolster can also be used to rest your head on in Seated Forward Bend or Child’s Pose. If you feel any discomfort or pain in this position, remove it immediately!
It may feel frustrating to not be able to do the same stretches and poses as other students, but there's nothing stopping you from trying! With the props listed above, you'll have no trouble easing yourself into positions and nailing that pose. Once you've successfully completed a move, be sure to treat yourself with something like a reward of your favorite ice cream flavor or a new book. It's very important in any circumstance to give yourself pats on the back (or in this case lots of yoga rewards) for all your hard work!