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What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient system of postures, breathing, relaxation, and meditation practices. They allow you to explore and challenge your body, mind and spirit. It originated in India thousands of years ago. Today most people practice yoga for fitness and to improve their overall sense of well-being. Yoga can also help with managing pain, stiffness and stress in chronic health problems such as JIA.

Why do yoga?

Yoga can help you with many things. Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Better flexibility and ease of movement
  • Increased strength
  • Less pain and morning stiffness
  • Better posture
  • More confidence
  • Breathing more easily
  • Feeling more calm and relaxed
  • Belonging to a group of people with a similar interest.

Yoga postures

Yoga postures (also called poses) can have unusual names, like downward facing dog, cobra and warrior. You can modify nearly all yoga postures to fit with your abilities. Check out the poses sections to learn more about each posture. No matter what your abilities, there will be yoga postures to challenge your body and mind.

Yoga breathing

Some people know that yoga involves breathing and energy techniques. One of the simplest breathing techniques is called “victorious breath.” This deep-breathing sounds almost like Darth Vader (from Star Wars). This is a great way to keep your focus on your breath while you are practising yoga.

For more information about breathing techniques, see “Ways to relax.”

How to practice yoga in the face of pain

If you are new to yoga, start slow. Add one or two new poses at a time. Use the modifications suggested if you need to with certain poses. Listen to your body. Yoga should be challenging but not painful to do. If in doubt, speak to your health care provider (or yoga instructor) for help in selecting the best poses for you.

How to find a reputable studio

The most important thing to do is meet the teacher. The person’s experience as a yoga teacher and how well you feel you can connect with them may be the most important factors. See if the teacher has experience with teen classes, and working with people with JIA.

Look for someone with yoga credentials, such as from the Canadian Yoga Alliance. Have the person explain their credentials. Letters after their name may designate that they have a paid membership to a group rather than that they have passed tests to show their abilities.

Look for someone who has trained in a program for teaching teens and children, and someone who has training in yoga therapy.

Sometimes there are yoga teachers who are also health care professionals like doctors, physical therapists, nurses, or psychologists. This is usually a sign of a good therapeutic yoga program.

Last updated: January 31st 2017