Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that may have several benefits for osteoarthritis. Some beneficial poses can be done standing, sitting, or lying down.

Yoga may help improve some symptoms of osteoarthritis, including:

  • stiffness
  • pain
  • swelling
  • limited range of motion

The following 4 yoga poses are part of a low impact, gentle routine that shouldn’t cause osteoarthritis to flare up.

However, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen. They could provide alternative poses for your specific condition.

  1. Stand with the sides of your big toes touching (your second toes should be parallel and your heels slightly apart).
  2. Lift and spread your toes, and place them back down on the floor.
  3. To get the right position, you can rock back and forth or side to side. The goal is to have your weight balanced evenly on each foot. Stand tall with a neutral spine. Your arms will be down at your sides, palms facing outward.
  4. Hold the pose for 1 minute, while remembering to breathe deeply in and out.
  1. From a standing position, step your feet about 4 feet apart.
  2. Lift your arms to the front and back (not to the sides) until they are parallel to the floor, keeping your palms down.
  3. Keep your right foot straight and turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left, aligning your heels.
  4. Exhale and bend your left knee over your left ankle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor.
  5. Stretch your arms out straight, keeping them parallel to the floor.
  6. Turn your head left and look over your outstretched fingers.
  7. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute, then reverse your feet and repeat on the other side.
  1. Begin seated on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and pull your heels in toward your pelvis.
  3. Drop your knees to the sides, pressing the bottom of your feet together.
  4. Keep the outer edges of your feet on the floor to maintain the position.

Pro tip: The goal of this Iyengar stretch is to bring your heels close to your pelvis without straining or becoming uncomfortable. Keep the outer edges of your feet on the floor to maintain the position. Don’t force your knees downward, stay relaxed. You can hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.

Like Mountain Pose, this is a simple pose, but the technique is important for the best results.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs together, and stretch them out in front of you (it can help to sit on a blanket to lift your pelvis).
  2. Check that you have proper alignment by sitting against a wall. Your shoulder blades should touch the wall, but your lower back and back of your head should not.
  3. Firm your thighs, pressing them down while rotating them toward each other.
  4. Flex your ankles while using your heels to press out.
  5. Hold the position for at least 1 minute.

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease in which the healthy cartilage that cushions bones at the joints breaks down through wear and tear. This may lead to osteoarthritis symptoms, such as stiffness, pain, and inflammation.

Yoga is a physical activity that combines movement and breathing exercises to help improve bodily, spiritual, and mental functions. Research suggests that it may have several benefits for osteoarthritis. For example:

  • A 2022 study found that online yoga programs helped improve knee stiffness and quality of life after 12 weeks for participants with knee osteoarthritis.
  • A 2018 study of 12 weeks found that participants following a yoga program had improved osteoarthritis knee pain, physical function, and mobility compared to those in the traditional exercise group or no exercise group.
  • A 2016 review found that yoga helped improve osteoarthritis pain, stiffness, and swelling.
  • A 2016 study found that yoga helped relieve knee pain and improve function after 2 weeks.

When choosing the best yoga poses for osteoarthritis, remember to keep it gentle and low impact.

If a certain pose causes pain or discomfort, use an alternative pose or a tool to help. For example, if you have hip osteoarthritis, you can place a towel between your hips and the yoga mat to provide extra cushioning.

You can include yoga in your weekly routine as it best suits you. Yoga interventions for osteoarthritis range from 1–6 weekly sessions, with each session lasting 45–90 minutes.

That said, the Arthritis Foundation notes that doing yoga every day would be great for your overall flexibility, strength, and mobility.

Yoga classes are available in person or online, so you can find an option that suits your timeframe and budget.

There are many different types of yoga, ranging from quick-shifting movements to long, drawn-out poses.

The following types of gentle yoga may be a good place to start if you’re living with osteoarthritis:

  • Iyengar: This focuses on balancing strength and flexibility. Many props and other supports are available to help provide modifications of poses.
  • Anusara: This focuses on image-based exercises.
  • Kripalu: This focuses more on meditation and less on body alignment.
  • Viniyoga: This coordinates breath and movement.
  • Phoenix Rising: This combines physical poses with a therapeutic emphasis.

What type of yoga is best for osteoarthritis?

Gentle, low impact yoga poses are the best for osteoarthritis. These may include Iyengar, Anusara, Kripalu, and Viniyoga yoga.

What yoga poses should you avoid with arthritis in the knees?

If you have knee arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation suggests avoiding yoga poses that involve bending the knee past 90 degrees, putting a lot of weight on the affected knee joint, or moving the knees in awkward positions.

Yoga is a type of physical activity that may help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion.

Speak with a healthcare professional before starting a yoga routine. They may recommend a yoga instructor with experience working with people who have osteoarthritis or provide alternative poses for your specific needs.