9 yoga poses for ankylosing spondylitis

Including yoga in your exercise routine can be helpful if you live with the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), such as pain and stiffness in your back.

“We don’t have a cure for AS, so yoga and other low-impact exercises are great options,” says Melvyn A. Harrington Jr., MD, professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston .

“People who have milder illness and don’t have significant stiffness can do more yoga poses than someone with advanced illness,” notes Dr Harrington.

For anyone, however, the phrase “no pain, no gain” doesn’t apply here – you don’t want to add to the pain you’re already feeling, so you’ll want to start slowly and tailor the yoga poses to your liking. capabilities.

Stretching and Breathwork Offer Benefits for Ankylosing Spondylitis

“The movements and stretches offered by yoga are helpful and can sometimes relieve some of the lower back pain associated with AS,” says Lauren Harris, New York-based yoga instructor. “People have to practice mindfully, of course, and listen to their own bodies. If a pose causes pain in any way, it should not be used.

Yoga’s deep breathing also offers benefits. “Yoga offers gentle stretching and flexibility, but work of breathing can be incredibly helpful for people with AS because it improves chest expansion,” says Diana Zotos, certified yoga instructor and physiotherapist in New York City. . “Some people with AS have a slumped posture. Yoga’s deep diaphragmatic breathing supports posture. “

Zotos suggests discussing yoga with your doctor before trying it, and then, once you’ve started, always listen to your body. “If it looks like a stretch, that’s a good thing, but if it hurts, the pose may not be right for you,” she says. “Go to a beginner’s class and use props like blocks or blankets if you need them. “

A yoga teacher can help you tailor yoga poses, or asanas, to your needs. “It’s your pose – it’s not a competition,” Zotos says.

Here are nine expert-approved yoga poses that may be particularly beneficial for people with ankylosing spondylitis.