Choosing a Type of Yoga

Finding the right form of yoga for you, a setting where you feel comfortable, an instructor that can modify poses to your needs, or a program that emphasizes gentle, easy motions, can make yoga so enjoyable that you won’t mind exercising, says Dr. Kolasinki. “No study has delineated how much yoga is too much and how much is too little, but I recommend to all my patients that they exercise in some form every day, and you can certainly do yoga every day,” she adds.

Which type of yoga is best for you? Some forms may be too strenuous, or involve advanced movements that would be difficult for someone with arthritis. In general, look for those that involve gentle stretching and relaxed breathing techniques are great for easing arthritis symptoms, improving function and reducing pain.

A general term for most of the common forms of yoga practiced in the U.S. is hatha yoga, which involves physical poses and breathing techniques. Within hatha are many forms of yoga, so here’s an overview of types you may encounter.

Gentle Yoga: Best Bets

One of the first methods of yoga practiced in the United States, Iyengar emphasizes body alignment, and includes the use of supports or props. Recommended by experts for people with arthritis, Iyengar yoga involves precise methods and demonstrations by the instructor, modifications for people with physical limitations, and an emphasis on poses rather than abstract concepts.

Created by Iyengar disciple John Friend, Anusara emphasizes the spiritual aspects of yoga and includes imagination techniques like “opening the heart” and image-based exercises.

Created in the 1960s by an Indian yoga instructor at his school in Stockbridge, Mass., Kripalu is a gentle style emphasizing meditation, poses and understanding the body. It focuses less on body alignment poses, which makes it appropriate for people with arthritis or beginners.

Emphasizing coordinated breathing and movement, Viniyoga is typically practiced on your own with a private instructor. It may be appropriate for someone with arthritis.