6 Simple Yoga Poses for Psoriatic Arthritis

These moves can help maintain mobility and flexibility, reduce pain, and make you feel less stressed.

illustration of woman, dressed in blue, in her living room practicing yoga, pose warrior 1. The living room is coral, filled with plants, art and a window showing a tree and sky
Warrior 1, shown here, strengthens your thighs, hips, and shoulders while stretching the front of the hip.Everyday Health; Adobe Stock

What if you could ease some of the pain and stiffness of?psoriatic arthritis?while also feeling calmer inside? Psoriatic arthritis is a serious condition that requires?appropriate medical treatment, but yoga can help.

Just 15 to 20 minutes a day of?gentle stretching, deep breathing, and meditation may make a difference in easing?psoriatic arthritis symptoms. An?analysis of 15 studies published in?Biological Research for Nursing?in March 2019?found that people with chronic inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, reap benefits from?yoga.

Yoga strengthens muscles and maintains flexibility, says?Emily Fiocchi, a yoga instructor and certified physical therapy assistant at Geisinger HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Holistic treatments such as yoga have also been shown to reduce pain and improve range of motion in patients with?rheumatoid arthritis, says?Sasha Bernatsky, MD, PhD,?a?rheumatologist?at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. “The same likely applies to psoriatic arthritis,” she says.

The 5 Different Types of Psoriatic Arthritis

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The 5 Different Types of Psoriatic Arthritis

Of course, some people with psoriatic arthritis may find yoga intimidating, Fiocchi says. But there’s no need to try headstands or twist yourself into a pretzel. Many traditional poses can be modified so they’re safe for people with psoriatic arthritis, making yoga a great complementary therapy, she says.

Still, you should talk with your doctor before starting any new?exercise program.

Once you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your medical team, try these six poses, modified specifically for people with psoriatic arthritis.

If you want to try doing yoga in person, be sure to tell your instructor about any limitations you may have. A good rule of thumb wherever you work out: “If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it,” Fiocchi says.

1. Reclining?Hamstring Stretch With Strap

Animated graphic showing a woman practicing yoga, reclining hamstring stretch with strap, listed as 1. lie on your back 2. exhale knee towards chest  3. inhale straighten leg 4. Repeat
Everyday Health

“This pose helps increase blood circulation in your joints and provides a fluid-filled cushion between the bones, without putting any weight on painful joints,” Fiocchi says.

Lie on your back on a mat or folded towel with your legs straight out. Place a yoga strap behind your right thigh. (If you don’t have a strap, you can use a belt or a long towel.) Bring your bent knee up toward your chest on an exhale. Inhale as you slowly straighten your leg toward the sky, then exhale as you bend the knee. Repeat, working slowly, with awareness, as you tighten the front thigh muscles each time you extend your leg.

“Do as many repetitions as your body says is okay that day,” Fiocchi says. Then repeat with your other leg.

2. Reclining Spinal Twist

animate graphic titled reclining spinal twist, showing woman practicing yoga, movements listed below as 1. lie on your back with knees bent, 2. exhales as you allow your kees to fall to one side, 3. inhale as you bring them back to center, 4. exhale
Everyday Health

This pose is good for stretching your hips and lower back while strengthening your abdominal muscles.

Lie on your back and slowly bend your knees. Keeping your inner thighs together, allow your knees to fall together to one side, bring them back to center, then let them fall to the other side. Repeat, inhaling as your legs come back to center and exhaling as your knees go to one side.

“It’s important to coordinate your breath with your movement,” notes Fiocchi. As you gently move your lower body from side to side, stay in the moment; think of the exercise as a moving meditation, which can help you clear your head and tamp down stress. “Stress relief,” says Dr. Bernatsky, “is an important part of arthritis?pain management.”

3. Reclining?Single Knee to Chest

Graphic titled, reclining single knee to chest, animated woman practicing yoga in the center. The movements are listed below as 1. lie on your back 2. draw one bent knee towards chest, 3. repeat with the other leg
Everyday Health

“This posture releases back tension, encourages gastrointestinal movement, and maintains flexibility in the knee and hip joints,” Fiocchi says.

Lying on your back, loop a strap (or use your intertwined hands) around the back of your thigh for support, then draw one bent knee toward your chest and abdomen with your opposite leg extended on the floor.

Keep the pelvis level and hold the thigh securely without straining, breathing evenly and deeply. Draw your focus to your lower back as you press it and your straightened leg firmly to the floor.

Repeat on the other side.

4. Warrior 1 Pose

graphic titled, warrior 1 pose, animated woman center practicing yoga. the movements are listed below as 1. start standing take long step forward, 2. Bend your front knee, 3. inhale and reach arms toward ceiling, 4. repeat with other foot in front
Everyday Health

“This pose helps bring mobility to your?knees?and strengthens your thighs, hips, and shoulders while stretching the front of the hip,” Fiocchi says.

Start by taking a long step forward with one leg, and bend your front knee; inhale and reach your arms over your head toward the ceiling. For good alignment, make sure your front bent knee is over your ankle but not reaching beyond.

Challenge yourself and hold the posture for as long as feels comfortable, then inhale as you straighten up again. Repeat with the opposite leg.

If balancing feels tricky, shorten the distance between your two feet. “And don’t be afraid to hold onto the back of a chair for support if you need to,” says Fiocchi.

Repeat a few times on each side.

5. Modified Downward-Facing Dog

Graphic titled, modified downward-facing dog, animated woman centered, practicing yoga. the steps are listed below as 1. place both hands on back of chair, 2. step both feet back, 3. bend forward at the hips, 4. relax and beathe deeply as you hold pose
Everyday Health

Stand behind a sturdy chair and place both hands on the back of the chair. Step both legs back so they are parallel and hip-width apart. Bend forward at the hips so your torso is parallel with the floor and your arms are outstretched. Relax and breathe deeply, slowly releasing your head between your arms and letting yourself bend more deeply at the hip joints. If your knees are bent, straighten them as much as is comfortable, thinking of tipping your tailbone up toward the ceiling.

Be sure to exhale as you come into the pose and inhale as you straighten up.

6. Wrist Rotations and Flexes

Graphic titled wrist rotations and flexes, animated wrist is centered with steps below, 1. rest your elbow on the armrest of chair, 2. rotate  your hands 3. point fingertips down towards floor, 4. point them up to the ceiling
Everyday Health

This pose opens up the spaces between the joints,?stretching and strengthening?your hand muscles, according to Fiocchi.

Start by sitting comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor. Rest your elbows on the armrests of the chair or in your lap so there is no weight on your arms. With your palms up, rotate your hands and wrists so your palms are facing your lap as you exhale, then inhale as you rotate your hands so your palms face the ceiling, and repeat.

Next, point your fingertips down toward the floor, then up to the ceiling, keeping your elbows bent.

Repeat these movements several times.

Additional hand exercises can be helpful in strengthening hands and fingers and expanding your range of motion.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

Sources

  1. Djalilova DM et al. Impact of Yoga on Inflammatory Biomarkers: A Systematic Review. Biological Research for Nursing. March 2019.
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