Yoga for Arthritis New Student Manual

22 Oct 2018 9:20 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)


I joined the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in fall of 2003. At that time, plans were underway for a small pilot study of yoga for people with rheumatoid arthritis. I came to help design and execute what would eventually expand to become the largest randomized controlled trial of yoga for arthritis and the topic of my doctoral dissertation. As the study expanded, we were able to bring in additional yoga instructors so that I wasn’t the only interventionist leading the 16-class series we had developed. In an effort to ensure the class was consistent, I put together a simple manual with poses and adaptations.

My husband took photos of me with his point-and-click camera (this is before phones had cameras in them) in our row house living room. We later realized that the manual could be adapted for students in order to assist with home practice. This manual has been in use for the past 15 years as Yoga for Arthritis became an organization with professional training programs around the country.

With its widespread use, I realized that the research training manual needed an upgrade. I also wanted more chair variations and images of the diverse people who live with arthritis- men and women, young and old, large and small, dark and light. Ann Swanson took the lead in arranging two photos shoots. We brought it people with arthritis who were willing to serve as our models, and we worked to revise the formatting and language for each pose. We also updated the articles in the back that serve as “homework” for students in the 8-week course.

If you are a yoga professional, we hope this new manual gives you more ideas of pose variations to use with your students and clients. If you are teaching the evidence-based 8-week series, this manual is a must-have for your students. It also is a nice tool for supporting their home practice in between yoga sessions.

If you are a yoga student, we hope the manual is informative and inspiring. Ask your yoga teacher/therapist which variations might be a good fit for you, and use your own internal compass to play with how they manifest in your unique body-mind. Consider reading the articles for more information about the science and practice of this work, and share it with your doctor as a way to discuss your self-care strategies.

This new student manual has been a long time coming. We appreciate everyone’s patience through the years it took us to get there. It is just one of the many upgrades you’ll be seeing as we go through a phase of growth and expansion. Let us know what you think of the manual and how you are using it. And please share more ideas of how we can continue to serve you best.


YFA Student Manual (Paperback)
YFA Student Manual (Paperback)
YFA Student Manual (E-Book)
YFA Student Manual (E-Book)

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