Most and least recommended types of yoga when you have lupus

Lupus Foundation of America

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Interested in trying yoga? While there are no hard and fast rules about which yoga disciplines are recommended, some are more likely to help ease lupus symptoms and others may be detrimental. 

“For example, you want to avoid hot yoga because it increases inflammation for people with lupus,” says Kathy Salvo, yoga instructor and director of group fitness at Chelsea Piers fitness center in Stamford, Connecticut. “The best is restorative yoga, which helps loosen [ligaments and muscles] that can get really tight and compromised.”

Low to moderate intensity exercise can be beneficial so that a person with lupus does not lose cardiovascular capacity and muscle mass, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama. “However, exercise and any movements that are overly strenuous can be too fatiguing and cause muscle soreness, which will yield inflammation.” Olson recommends yoga that enhances muscular endurance and flexibility as best choices.

Most recommended yoga styles for people with lupus

Restorative yoga

Mellow and slow-moving, restorative yoga includes longer holds, which gives your body a chance to experience a deeper relaxation. You can use props to fully support the body in each pose, including: blankets, bolster pillows, and yoga blocks.

Iyengar

This type of yoga is all about the body’s alignment. Iyengar uses props such as yoga blocks and blankets as well as straps or a ropes wall to help you work within a safe and effective range of motion. Unlike the flowing movements of Vinyasa, Iyengar poses are held for a longer period of time. It's a style often recommended for those with injuries. 

Hatha

This class tends to be a gentle introduction to yoga poses. Props may be used to help achieve each pose.

Least recommended yoga styles for people with lupus

Hot yoga and Bikram

Poses practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity put you at risk for dehydration and inflammation. “Lupus often makes it hard for the veins to dilate, which is a normal cooling process and core temperature regulating system,” says Olson.

Approach with caution

Vinyasa or Ashtanga

The flowing dance-like movements of these styles can help ease stiffness and pain, making them appealing for anyone experiencing those symptoms. However, both styles are performed at a faster pace than other types of yoga and involve continuous movement, or “flow.” No class is alike, so one may be more intense than another.

No matter what yoga discipline you decide to do, speak with your doctor before you try it. If and when you decide to practice yoga, speak to the instructor about your condition, so they can provide you with modifications. 

And, most importantly, listen to your body and don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level.