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Can yoga or tai chi help control rheumatoid arthritis?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 22, 2017.

Yoga and tai chi have been found to reduce symptoms and may be beneficial when you use them along with other conventional treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.

Yoga combines physical movements with breathing techniques, mental relaxation and meditation. When done properly, yoga is a safe and effective therapy for people with rheumatoid arthritis. It's been found to reduce pain, build muscle strength, increase flexibility, and improve balance and posture.

  • Yoga. More than 100 different styles of yoga exist, and some are safer than others. Viniyoga, Iyengar yoga and chair yoga are reasonable choices. It's best to avoid Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga and power yoga when you have rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Tai chi. Tai chi features slow, fluid movements with gentle stretches and deep breathing. Performing tai chi has been found to improve balance and function, increase strength, and reduce stress and pain.

It's important to talk to your doctor before starting yoga, tai chi or other complementary therapies to make sure they're safe for you. Even if your doctor says it's safe, look for yoga and tai chi instructors who can modify movements to minimize joint stress.

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