Try Yoga Off the Mat for Healthier Joints
The following is a guest post by Zenergy yoga instructor Lauri Hoffman Bunting.
Joints are important parts of our bodies. They connect all of the pieces and allow for movement. When they function properly, we don’t even notice them, but when something goes awry, our lives are turned upside down. Aching joints affect our mood, weight, quality of sleep, and outlook on life. Yoga offers some great tools for keeping our joints feeling smooth, spacious, and silky so that we can move through life with grace and ease.
Be Kind to Your Body
Ahimsa (do no harm) is the over-arching principle of the yoga practice. Ahimsa calls us to pause and reflect on how our diet, exercise, activities, lifestyle and habits help or hinder our joints.
Movement is essential to joint health, keeping joints lubricated, nourished and supple. Yet improper movement can strain the ligaments around a joint and cause wear and tear of the protective cartilage. During yoga class, students are constantly given postural cues for proper alignment and joint safety. It is important to extend this awareness off the mat and into our lives as we sit, stand and move.
Where the Mind Goes, Prana Flows
On a subtle level, healing occurs when mind, prana and body converge. Prana is vital energy that animates every cell in the body. Breath is the most tangible form of prana, but prana extends beyond the breath. When we “breathe” into a particular part of the body, it is actually prana and awareness that flows to that area. Don’t underestimate the power of the mind! Take time to close your eyes and pull your awareness and breath into an aggravated joint. Envision it spacious, smooth, moist, and in perfect health.
Eat Like a Yogi
From a yogic point of view, joint health goes hand in hand with digestive health. An overburdened digestive system leads to undigested food and an accumulation of toxins that can reside in the joints. Michael Pollen sums up the yogic diet, “Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants.” Stop before you are full and give system a break between meals.
Digest and Rest
Feeling groggy, puffy and stiff in the morning? Try eating a light dinner and finishing by 7 pm. The process of digestion requires a lot of energy. Eating light and early allows ample time to digest so that your body’s energy and resources can be directed towards restoration and healing while you sleep. As for sleep, our bodies love regularity. Set your alarm for your bedtime so that you can wake naturally.
Hydrate and “Oleate”
Staying hydrated and consuming healthy fats supports proper joint function. Drink plenty of water, eat juicy fruits and vegetables, and replace processed oils with whole fats—raw seeds, nuts, and olives, coconut, and avocados. A well-established yoga remedy for stiff and sore joints is to rub castor oil on them and then soak in a warm bath.
Join Lauri for a special Yoga for Joint Health series, Wednesdays from 4-5:15pm, thru October 21. Two classes left! Non-members and drop-ins welcome. Members $12, non-members $17, per session. Click HERE to sign up.
Lauri Hoffman Bunting brings more than 20 years of experience to her yoga teaching, emphasizing breath and alignment as important keys to unlocking physical and energetic blocks in the body. Currently, she is studying Yoga Therapy through Integrative Yoga Therapy. Lauri also is a certified plant-based chef and wellness coach. She enjoys working with individuals to help them achieve optimal wellness through yoga, diet and lifestyle.