Yoga classes for people with joint pain

Finding the right one is key when starting out

Published: December 08, 2014 05:00 PM

Q. How can a beginner with joint pain find the right yoga classes?

A. Look for an instructor trained in “Prime of Life Yoga” or “Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors.” The teachers are trained to work with newbies and students 40 and up who may have physical limitations. Classes that are described as “gentle,” “beginner,” or “Iyengar” (a style emphasizing posture and careful alignment) are also good bets.

Tell your instructor about your joint pain. He or she can adapt poses to give you optimal flexibility without injury. And remember, "You should decide when to come out of a posture. Don’t stay longer than you feel comfortable," advises Larry Payne, Ph.D., who developed Prime of Life Yoga and directs the Samata Yoga Center in Los Angeles. "Don’t do anything that intuitively doesn’t feel right for you."

One type of class to avoid is "hot yoga," which are sessions held in rooms heated to at least 105° F. Those classes could lead to heat stroke, joint and muscle damage, or infection.

More great ways to exercise if you have joint pain are water workouts. And simply walking on a treadmill or working out on an elliptical trainer can help with joint and arthritis pain.

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Editor's Note:

A version of this article also appeared in the October 2014 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

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