I have been doing yoga for over five years now, and recently added pilates to my repertoire. Both have made an amazing difference in my strength, flexibility and joint pain from lupus. Not only does my physical body feel better from doing yoga and pilates, but my mind has a chance to calm, relax and clear.
Benefits of Yoga for SLE
SLE can cause severe, and often immobilizing joint pain for many SLE patients. Some days and seasons are better for some than others, but the muscle and joint soreness can often be distracting, or downright debilitating in a day. Yoga helps keep your mind clear, helps you focus on breathing skills, and helps the body learn to stretch and strengthen to be more flexible and relieve joint pain and pressure.1
Not only do those physical benefits apply, but the positive attitude of feeling better helps create more energy – another thing that many lupus patients are lacking. Their body is so tired from the fight within itself, it’s often difficult to find the strength to even get up in the morning. Finding some time for yoga will help you feel energized and ready to keep moving.1
As any type of exercise does, yoga and pilates can also help with weight gain control. Many medications taken for lupus symptoms often have a side effect of weight gain. Although yoga and pilates alone are not high calorie burning exercises, they are useful in addition with other exercise and activity to help keep the weight off.1
Pilates is great for those with SLE because it’s a natural resistance exercise, not focused on building up bulk, but creating a tightening and strengthening of the body and muscles. The focus is core strength, while straightening and strengthening the spine.2 If you love yoga, and you add pilates to your mix, you will find focused core yoga exercise to become much easier and more enjoyable. Those poses would be things like boat, or crow.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is the practice of stretching, pose focus for strength, breath focus and technique, while clearing the mind and uniting the mind, body and environment. Each person’s yoga “practice” is their own. The level they want to achieve, focus or push to is their decision. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is achieving. It’s focus is on what your mind and body needs.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is newer, and was developed in the 1900s by Joseph Pilates. It’s focus is on core, spine strength, and coordination.3 When first starting pilates, try a beginner class to learn the stances, and focused moves and lingo. Don’t feel intimidated if you can’t do everything the first few classes. It’s very challenging core work, and takes a lot of practice to develop the strength.
What do you need to do yoga and pilates?
You need bare feet, or special sticky bottom socks, a mat and yourself! Many studios have mats to borrow, but I recommend your own mat. I have a thicker mat for pilates, and a thin mat for yoga. I purchased the thicker mat for mat pilates because you spend a lot of time on your back or stomach on the floor. The thin yoga mats do work, but it’s more comfortable with a thicker pilates-focused mat. The thick pilates mats are not ideal for yoga. Because yoga does require movement between positions the thicker mats tend to slip more than the thin.
Check out your area and see what yoga and pilates studios and classes exist. Of course, as always, you should always alert your doctor to a new exercise routine, and format. Be sure you are cleared for exercise. And relax and succeed!