Yoga for Arthritis: Poses and Benefits 

Yoga for Arthritis

Yoga for arthritis helps to strengthen the joints and increase flexibility. It also tends to soothe the tensed points of the joint. 

Arthritis is related to joint discomfort. Swelling, stiffness, and a reduction in range of motion are common signs of arthritis. The severity of the symptoms varies over time. Prolonged arthritis can cause extreme pain, inflammation, skin discoloration, and a sensation of heat close to the joint, making it difficult to do everyday tasks and making walking and daily movement difficult.

Some of the main factors leading to arthritis may be related to our daily habits centering on nutrition, exercise, and mental health. Overeating food like meat, animal fat, fried food, refined food, excessive dairy products, sugar, and salt plays a big part in developing arthritis. 

Types of Arthritis

There are various types of arthritis. Some of the most common types are:


This occurs due to the damage that results from excessive joint usage. It is generally a result of aging, although it can also result from obesity, which puts strain on joints. The joints that are most frequently affected are those that support weight, such as the spine, foot, hips, and knees.

Rheumatoid arthritis 

It is an autoimmune condition. This occurs when the body’s joints are targeted by the immune system, which results in inflammation. These commonly happen over joint locations such as knuckles, elbows, or heels.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a kind of arthritis that usually affects the back due to inflammation in the spine. The body creates more calcium around the spine’s bones in reaction to the inflammation, which leads to the growth of additional bone, stiffening the neck and back. This may lead to a hunched posture and difficulty in breathing. 

Yoga for Arthritis – How Yoga Helps 

Yoga for rheumatoid arthritis mainly consists of restorative yoga, hatha yoga, and yin yoga. Restorative yoga poses refer to gentle holds combined with props to increase mobility without tension.

Hatha yoga is a more physically demanding kind of yoga that one may adjust and customize to suit your body and prevent strain. Long holds are used in yin yoga to help the tissues and muscles open. It is best to include mindfulness in the practice to increase effectiveness. You can learn and master all these different yoga styles in our 500-hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh

When we experience pain in a particular body part, it is usual that we will probably utilize the joint less and place less weight on it as a result of the pain. As a result, the surrounding muscles get weaker due to that, which intensifies the discomfort.

Additionally, if one does not utilize these muscles as often, their range of motion decreases and further perpetuates the cycle. So, yoga for arthritis is essential in maintaining mobility in the affected joint areas. 

Pilates and Yoga are both low-intensity exercises and may look similar, but they have their differences. Pilates uses the inner core muscles to begin every movement. The stability of these muscles helps to maintain the correct alignment of the rest of the body.

In Pilates, you choose a position and then use your arms or legs to work your core. Yoga for arthritis usually involves adopting a pose and holding it or flowing into a new one. Both strategies improve flexibility and strength. It’s crucial to choose an activity that aligns with the objectives of the condition.

Best Yoga Poses For Arthritis

When joints are not regularly exercised, they become rigid. Due to a sedentary lifestyle, the legs, hips, spine, and shoulders get tight from sitting in chairs all the time. Deep subconscious stress, emotional repression, and fear may also lead to physical stiffness in the form of arthritis. Some of the best yoga poses for arthritis are

Forward Bend
Yoga for Arthritis (Hasta Padasana)

  1. Stand on the mat with the spine lengthened
  2. Inhale. Raise your arms.
  3. Exhale, contract your belly and bend forward from the hips.
  4. Flatten your palms on the mat or hold onto your ankles.
  5. When you inhale, extend your back, and as you release the breath, go deeper into the position.

Target: Hips and knee This pose is one of the best beginner yoga for hip arthritis.

Cobra Pose
Yoga for Arthritis (Cobra pose)

  1. Lie face down on the mat. Place legs at a hip-width distance.
  2. Place your palms down, just below the shoulder blades. Bend the elbows.
  3. Raise the upper body by pulling your chest away from the floor as you breathe in.
  4. Maintain comfortable inhalation and exhalation and hold for 10 breaths.

Target: Hips, feet, ankle, abdominal muscles

Seated Spinal Twist
Yoga for Arthritis (Seated Spinal Twist)

  1. Take a seat with the legs out in front of you
  2. Place the left foot on the outside of your right thigh and bend the left knee. 
  3. Grasp your left knee with your right hand and turn your body slightly to the left, 
  4. Glancing over your left shoulder. 
  5. Hold for 10 breaths. Switch to the other side.

Target: Upper back, lower back muscles, chest, and shoulder

Tree pose
Yoga for Arthritis (Tree pose)

  1. Stand on the mat in Tadasana. Spread the toes, and press your feet into the mat. 
  2. Inhale, open your chest and release your breath as you push your shoulder blades down the back. Focus on a stable point directly ahead.
  3. Gently raise the right foot and place the sole onto the left inner thigh or shin. Avoid pressure on the knee.
  4. Place your hands on the chest in namaskar. 
  5. Hold for 10 deep breaths.
  6. Repeat with the other leg.

Target: Knee, inner thigh, and groin muscles

Bridge pose
Bridge pose

  1. Lie on the back. Bend your knees.
  2. Spread your legs with your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Stretch your arms out to each side of your body to touch the back of the heels
  4. Gently raise your hips up 
  5. Tuck your chin in slightly toward your chest, which helps lengthen the back of your neck.
  6. Put your hands under the back and interlace the fingers. 
  7. Hold for 30 seconds.

Target: Glutes, hamstrings, neck, and back muscles

Read more about the Benefits of Bridge pose

Triangle Pose
Triangle pose

  1. Stand on the mat in Tadasana. Bring the right foot forward at 90 degrees and place the left foot at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Inhale, extend the arms to the side in a T-shape
  3. Breathe out to bend your body to the right from the hips 
  4. Try to place the palms of the right hand on the mat or grab the ankle
  5. Extend the left hand upwards toward the ceiling and look up.
  6. Open up the chest and straighten the shoulder 
  7. Hold the pose for 30 seconds. 
  8. Repeat the same with the other side.

Target: Hamstrings, hips, glutes, and ankles

Read more about the Triangle Pose

Chair Pose
Chair pose

  1. Stand on the mat with the spine lengthened in Tadasana.
  2. Take a deep breath, and lift your arms above the head so that they are parallel to one another. 
  3. Exhale and bend your knees. Avoid leaning forward. 
  4. Lower your body to assume a half-squat position. 
  5. Maintain a parallel between your thighs. 
  6. Hold the pose and maintain balance for 10 breaths. 
  7. The chair pose is a basic stretch of yoga for knee arthritis, which helps to soothe the knee pain and strengthen the muscles.

Target: lower body muscles, knee, hips, inner thigh, and glutes

Child Pose
Child pose

  1. Place your knees slightly apart on the ground.
  2. Exhale and bend forward. Slightly tuck your chin.
  3. Extend the arms on the ground in front of you or extend them back toward the feet, palms up.
  4. Let the weight of the shoulders stretch the shoulder blades widely across the back.
  5. Breathe in gently and deeply for 30 seconds.

Target: Hips, glutes, knee, front of the thigh, lower back muscles

Side plank

  1. Lie on your side to place the feet on top of one another. Keep the legs straight.
  2. Lay your forearm flat beneath the shoulder on the ground. 
  3. Raise your hips toward the ceiling by applying pressure with your forearm and foot. Refrain from twisting the hips. 
  4. Tighten the abdominal muscles.
  5. Hold the posture for 10 breaths. Fix the gaze forward.
  6. Gently lower yourself on the floor. Repeat with the other side.

Target: Abdominal, hip, and shoulder muscles. 

Warrior pose I
Warrior 1

  1. Stand in Tadasana with the spine lengthened.
  2. Place the right foot forward at 90 degrees and the left foot at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Gently bend the foot, which is 90 degrees, and lower down the body.
  4. Keep the right thigh parallel to the floor.
  5. Extend the hands towards the ceiling, open the chest to a slight backbend, and gaze up.
  6. Hold the pose for 10 breaths. Repeat with the other side.

Target: Knee, abdomen, hips, hamstrings, and upper body muscles

Yoga for knees and hips arthritis focuses on stretching the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and outer thighs. Restorative yoga, Iyengar yoga, or poses with mild stretches and bends are best for people with knee and hip arthritis.

Restorative yoga for arthritis helps to support the affected area and maintain balance through the poses and gain the same benefits. It is crucial to perform the poses in front of a yoga expert in severe cases so that they may modify the poses to suit your style and condition.

Meghna Banerjee