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Yoga Exercises for Joint Health

We don’t often think a lot about our joints—that is, until they start aching or hurting. If you want to delay or prevent such pain, give them a little TLC before they get sore.

If you’re athletic, your joints may be at risk from overuse or extreme movements, but you can considerably reduce your risk of injury by doing gentle joint exercises before you go out to hike, cycle, play golf or tennis, surf, or whatever it is you do to stay active. Think about which joints are most involved in your activity (or maybe where you’ve had an injury before) and then spend a little time—maybe 10 to 15 minutes—doing exercises to loosen and warm up those joints.

As you practice your favorite activity, be aware of how your joints are feeling and, if they start to become painful, make sure you slow down, stop, or maybe do a few gentle stretches to see if you can correct the problem. This is far better than trying to work through the pain and making it worse. It’s never a good idea to ignore pain or take an anti-inflammatory to mask it just so you can keep playing. That’s asking for trouble.

As we age and the body becomes more dry, our joints become susceptible to osteoarthritis and other degenerative diseases. Gently exercising the joints can help deter the onset of these painful conditions. If you are already experiencing frequent joint pain, it’s best to consult your physician about which exercises are safe and beneficial for your particular condition.  

I have several easy joint exercises on my DVDs—in my Easy Series and on my Flexibility DVD from the Yoga for Everyone Series. There are also a few on my website: Toe & Ankle Exercises and this week’s Plain Pose with Finger Strengthening Wrist Exercise and Shoulder Elbow Exercise. Of course, all asanas exercise some of our joints since it’s joints that enable us to move, so be sure to stay active by practicing yoga regularly!

Yoga for Vitality

According to yoga scriptures, we are all eternally youthful: “For the soul there is neither birth nor death, nor having once been, does he ever cease to be.” This explains why we feel young inside, even as the image in the mirror slowly ages. The challenge is to keep our bodies in good shape so that we retain our vitality. Yoga offers us a way to do this. Just consider two of the many things yoga has to offer, diet and exercise.

Your Feet - Your Foundation

We know that a house needs a solid, even foundation for it to stand straight and strong. The same goes for our practice of asanas. Regardless of the position we place our body in, we must be grounded and secure.

In yoga’s many standing poses our feet are our foundation. So it’s important to make sure that this foundation is a solid one. How do we do this? First of all, by bringing our awareness to our feet.

Yoga in the Air

I think of flying as ‘down time’ and actually find it quite relaxing. Think about it. Once you get through the busy airport and are settled in your seat, there’s nowhere to go until you arrive at your destination—no household chores to get through, no phone calls or text, and work is on hold (unless you absolutely have to open your laptop to finish a report or something). It’s actually quite a good time to practice yoga. And there are plenty of simple exercises you can do right there in your seat. You can even meditate.

Banish Fatigue with Yoga Asanas and Breathing

If you find yourself getting tired during the middle of the day, it could be because of dehydration or low blood sugar. Try to be more conscientious about drinking enough water throughout the day, and see if that helps. Or your fatigue may be caused if your blood sugar is low, in which case, of course, you need to eat. Choose complex carbs, vegetables, or protein. Avoid refined sugars because although they can give you a boost for a little while, it’s often followed by a crash, making you just want to lie down for a nap!

Asana Practice on Cold Days

I know what it’s like to get out of a warm bed into a cold room on a winter’s day before you’ve had a chance to turn up the heater. Your body feels stiff and the last thing you feel like doing is a forward bend. On cold days I always take a hot shower before I start my asana practice. The hot water takes away the chill and melts away the tension I’ve been holding in my muscles from being cold. Then I pull on some comfy clothes for my asana practice and get onto my mat.

Building Strength in Asanas

One thing I love about yoga asanas is that I can build strength simply by using my own body—I don’t need any weights or expensive machines. Holding the body in yoga’s various poses while resisting gravity builds muscle strength, while also helping build strong bones. Even moving into and out of poses, especially when done slowly and with awareness, helps gain strength throughout the body.

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