Students with Lupus

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Read Dr. Timothy McCall's response:

Hi Sam,

Lupus is a complicated, autoimmune disease that often causes painful arthritis, as well as problems with the organs and skin. But students with the same diagnosis may have very different symptoms from one another, and any one student's symptoms can vary over time. So rather than give you a set formula, which will never be right for everyone, let me mention a few ideas.

Even though in common degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), movement to warm the joints, including some vigorous yoga classes, can be therapeutic, it can be counterproductive in the case of acutely inflamed joints as found in lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. When there is significant inflammation, the joint is often warm, swollen and painful, and the overlying skin may be reddened. In such cases, you'll need to back way off, concentrating on restoratives and gentle poses, as well as breathing, meditation, and chanting until things cool down.

Once acute joint inflammation settles down, a broader-based practice including all major groups of asana can be useful. Err on the side of safety, both in terms of the practices attempted and in how they are done. From an <a href="/health/ayurveda">Ayurvedic perspective, many students with inflammatory conditions have increased levels of pitta and/or vata, and tend to push themselves harder than is advisable. Urge safe, patient and steady practice of the basics—rather than advanced poses or some perfect sequence for the condition—as the key to health and well-being. A regular meditation practice may be the best yogic tool for dealing with chronic, painful conditions in the long run. For students who are interested in pursuing this option, in my experience, Ayurvedic treatments from an experienced practitioner can be a helpful adjunct to conventional medical care.