Geoff Lindsay and Jamie Boder

How to practice yoga safely for Ankylosing Spondylitis and Axial Spondyloarthritis

Stretch not strain, stretch and relax.

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. 

Avoid headstands, full shoulder stands or plough poses.

Go to where you are feeling the stretch, then ease off little and breathe into the pose. 

Yoga breathing encourages the parasympathetic nervous system which encourages greater relaxation and reduces stress, hence reducing inflammation.

No pressure. This means don’t allow yourself to be pushed physically by anyone when in a yoga pose. It means do not allow group pressure or from pressure from yourself to coax you into going further than you feel comfortable. 

The benefits of yoga does increase by going further, in fact by taking time and easing your way into a pose, your muscles and nervous system respond favourably. 

Absence of injury. You're already dealing with AS, to avoid another injury.  

Breathing techniques and relaxation practices are recommended if you are in flare, more than stretching. 

Listen and respond to what your body is telling you. The most common cause of yoga injuries is when students do not listen and respond to their own bodies.

Yoga for AS is modified for a wide range of presentations of AS choose a class or course that is suitable for your AS.
You could also personalise your practice with a one to one.

A safe yoga class is where the teacher demonstrates the yoga pose, invites you to copy it and helps you while you try the yoga pose. If you cannot copy, the teacher encourages you to stop when you feel the stretch. The teacher offers encouragement, not pressure. The teacher offers small adjustments and modifications.

Warm up. There is a golden hour after you have thoroughly warmed up when people with AS can break up the inflammation in joints and enthesis by stretching, extending, elongating, unfolding, unravelling. You can find some warm ups here. A warm bath, warm clothing can help. 

Pace your recovery from flares. It is safe, regular Yoga for AS practice that improves your wellbeing in the long run.

When starting Yoga for AS, try it with a family or friend. 
Become an expert by experience, learn how to practice Yoga for AS safely.

Keep safe if you have joint hypermobility, watch this video to learn more.

Fear of injury or embarrassment is what holds many people AS back. You can practice Yoga for AS safely and with support from others in the same boat. 

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