Millions are impacted by arthritis and autoimmune conditions. 1 in 5 adults and 50 percent of those over 65 years of age in the USA have been diagnosed with some form of autoimmune disease: arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia.
Canada’s largest yoga fundraiser, Power of Movement encourages putting your downdog to good use and raise funds to beat arthritis and autoimmune diseases. Twenty three cities will host Power of Movement events on Sunday, March 4, 2012. Kim McNeil, Calgary Power of Movement Ambassador, joins us to talk about the important role yoga can play in alleviating the symptoms caused by autoimmune conditions. She’ll give tips for individuals with arthritis who want to practice yoga and let you know how you can get involved in an event close to home – Families welcome!
Learn more about Power of Movement HERE.
In the interview Kim refers to this book Yoga for Arthritis by Loren Fishman – which I’ll definitely be getting my hands on ASAP.
Excerpt from the interview:
Donna: We’re talking about yoga for arthritis. But, I don’t believe you have arthritis.
Kim: No I don’t. I know several people who are close to me that have arthritis, including my brother and also my father has a form of autoimmune disease. So it’s fairly rampant in my family and extended family. I am fortunate, you could say, to not have to live with it, but I am involved in support of it.
Donna: What are the benefits and how can yoga assists those with arthritis and autoimmune disorders?
Kim: It’s an excellent questions and yoga comes in a lot of different forms, especially the hatha branch, the physical side of yoga. And when you look at it from a therapeutic standpoint it has massive benefits for people with arthritis. A lot of times individuals suffering with autoimmune and arthritis often can’t attend a “regular class” as it is often too fast paced or they simply cannot move into the same positions as those with healthy joints can. When you slow it down, and break it up into its pieces, and make sure the poses are done in a way that are safe, make sure the movements are very pure and at their own pace, then it really has massive benefits. The whole process of moving the joints is, in a way, keeping the joints healthy.
So, it’s a vicious cycle. You find out you have arthritis, you live in pain and become less active, and in turn your joints suffer from that because they are not getting the movement they need. It helps with the circulation of the synovial fluid within the joints, whose job it is keep them healthy, to supply the joints with nutrients, and to help keep the structures intact. Yoga can help with that. Because yoga asks people to move in a lot of different way than we normally wouldn’t, especially if we have a desk job, we kinda have a sedentary lifestyle. We’re asked to do a full range of movement through each joint and that just ups the ante in terms of benefits.
Donna: Can you describe, especially for a teacher, some of the things a teacher should be aware of to give a safe and positive yoga experience for students with arthritis?
Kim: Normally if a student is experiencing pain in a movement that is a pretty big signs. They should step back and re-evaluate. When you’re suffering from arthritis pain if often there all the time. To realize that pain is a chronic problem. To also realize that they may not be able to do poses because of joint mobility issues. That they simply can’t move their joints into say downward dog because of the wrists. To have options to modify if necessary. I didn’t mention this before, but there is a whole emotional and mental aspect to this as well. When you are in chronic pain, especially when you are diagnosed young, in your 20s, that there is depression that goes along with that because they can’t live the life they are used to. you have to change the way you do things. Yoga offers hem a change to get to know their body, to de-stress, to almost go into a meditative state. Where they can start to, love their bodies again and to honor what their new normal is. To keep those things in mind. To change the poses up, to offer something that is a little more gentle, and to make sure they work through pure range of motion and to recognize that there is an emotional part of it.
Donna: If I had arthritis, do you have some tips for me as I practice yoga myself?
Kim: In a perfect world you would find someone life myself. Nice pitch, eh (laughs). Honestly you would find someone who has a broader background than someone who has just a basic yoga teacher training program. Someone who has done additional training with physiotherapists, with other yoga therapists that is comfortable teaching you. Now that isn’t always possible, especially if you live in smaller communities. There are a lot of great yoga classes that are labelled beginner yoga, gentle, restorative, better backs, if you have arthritis in your spine. Look for those things. I would avoid classes that say flow, hot, vigorous, power yoga. The labeling of the class has a lot to do with what you do to finding something that is appropriate for you. Search out the teacher, search out the class. If it doesn’t feel right, then move on, and find another one. There are so many options.
Donna: You have an important event coming up. March 4th. Can you tell us a little bit about Power for Movement? What it is, how it came to be and all the kind of stuff.
Kim: It’s Canada’s biggest karma yoga class in support of, and benefiting, arthritis research. And it began in 2007 in Toronto. In 2009 it went across country. So that now almost every major city across Canada has a Power for Movement class that happens on March 4th. This is the first year, it’s quite exiting, that the event is starting to branch out into the United States. So they have one event this year in the United States, and we’re hoping to grow that as well, as more people want to get involved, and from a grass-roots level start it up in their own town. In Calgary, on March 4th, the event happens at Eau Clair Market from 11 in the morning to 12:30…
Listen to the entire interview for resources (books, DVD, etc), yoga for chronic pain, as well as information on how to get involved in the Power of Movement event being held March 4, 2012.