Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark

Lupus Solution

Can you recommend any poses to alleviate the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus?

By Baxter Bell

óDee, via e-mail

Baxter Bell's reply:

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune illness (that is, one in which the body attacks itself). It's sometimes likened to rheumatoid arthritis, except that the inflammation of SLE can affect not only the joints but almost every other bodily system, including the skin, heart, lungs, and kidneys.

It affects women by a ratio of 10 to 1 over men; they commonly develop it between their 30s and 50s. It is considered a progressive illness, meaning it gradually worsens over time, and it alternates between periods of remission and flare-ups. Studies examining the relationship between arthritis and exercise have found that moderate aerobic exercise can be beneficial, so you might assume the same would be true for SLE.

My recommendations for an asana practice depend on whether you are in a symptom-free or flare-up stage. To improve joint health when symptom-free, you should focus on proper alignment of the joints, creating maximum space in the joint, and putting the joints through a full range of motion. A beginning-level Iyengar-style class would be ideal, along with a gentle vinyasa practice for range of motion.
Things shift dramatically during flare-ups, when most sufferers experience profound fatigue. It's good to move to a more restorative practice during those periods. When you have pain, joint inflammation, and a skin rash, your body needs help to shift from the high-alert focus of the sympathetic nervous system to the quiet, immunity-supporting role of the parasympathetic nervous system.

A regular yoga practice can also help the mind observe itself during the stress of pain and physical limitations. The limbs of yoga most helpful in this regard are pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), and dhyana (meditation). I've witnessed patients completely change their relationship to their chronic illnesses through the application of these ancient methods.

Baxter Bell, M.D., teaches public, corporate, and specialty back-care yoga classes in Northern California, and lectures to health care professionals around the country. A graduate of the Piedmont Yoga Studio's Advanced Studies Program, he integrates the therapeutic applications of yoga with Western medicine.


Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark
Full Name
Address 1
Address 2
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email (req):

Reader Comments

Daisy Seale-Barnes

Anyone with lupus might be interested in a blog I wrote on this subject:
http://livingwellwithlupus.blogspot.com/2009/11/yoga-and-lupus-introduction.html

Add a Comment »

Your Name:

Comment:

Stay Connected with Us!

Yoga Journal Live events
sd14 San Diego
Sheraton San Diego
July 10-14, 2014
Register
2014 new york live New York
Hilton New York
April 24-28, 2014
Register

More Events

Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus
Liability insurance and benefits to support
teachers and studios.
Learn More
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 4 FREE GIFTS
Your subscription includes
Yoga for Neck & Shoulders • Yoga Remedies
Yoga for Headaches • Calm, Cool, Collected
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Yoga Journal
and my 4 FREE downloadable Yoga Booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions