This is an excerpt from Adaptive Yoga by Ingrid Yang & Kyle Fahey.
Regular yoga practice has many benefits for patients with RA, including increasing muscle strength and endurance, proprioception, and balance, and emphasizing movement through a full range of motion (ROM) to increase flexibility and mobility. Additional benefits of yoga include improved breathing, relaxation, body awareness, and meditation, which can reduce stress and anxiety and promote a sense of calmness, general well-being, and improved quality of life. Research suggests that yoga may even help decrease inflammatory markers that signal the severity and activity of disease.3
In early stages of RA, relaxation, imagery, and biofeedback, as adjuncts to conventional therapy, can improve pain and mood as well as physical functioning and coping.1 Mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress, as well as improve mood in RA.16 Other aspects of yoga may be particularly important for individuals with musculoskeletal concerns, including the emphasis on acknowledging and accepting day-to-day variability in well-being and energy, enhancing body awareness, respecting limits, and modifying exercise (mode, duration, frequency) in response to transient changes in disease activity.