Thursday, May 23, 2019

New Study on Yoga and Lupus

by Christa Fairbrother, ER-RYT 200/RYT-500 and lupus patient

I’m excited to share with you that in preliminary research, yoga showed qualitative improvements for women living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The study Yoga for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Clinician experiences and qualitative perspectives from students and yoga instructors living with SLE  looked at the feasibility of expanding the research conducted in A pilot study of yoga as self-care for arthritis in minority communities to people living with SLE. 

For the study, three yoga teachers living with SLE were interviewed to offer input on adapting yoga to those living with lupus, such as including restorative postures, alternatives for challenging inversions, and cooling breath practices. Some of the key features of lupus are fatigue and pain, which are episodic when the disease flares, so the yoga classes in the study focused on teaching hatha yoga postures for strength, flexibility, and balance, and breath work and meditation. 

Three research participants completed the eight-week (sixteen 60-minute sessions) study and reported positive outcomes, including reduced pain, increased relaxation, and improved general well-being. 

The authors conclude that yoga appears to be safe and adaptable for people living with lupus and further research would tease out variables, such as correct dosing for yoga with SLE, and adapting for co-morbidities. 

This study was reported in Complementary Therapies in Medicine Volume 41, December 2018, Pages 111-117.

For Christa Fairbrother, living with arthritis caused by mixed connective tissue disease and teaching yoga are integrated. She had arthritis for more than 20 years before she knew about it and had a hard time reconciling everything she'd had achieved and her relative lack of pain with all her joint damage. She gave her lifelong yoga practice the credit and now helps other people get more comfort in their joints and use the tools of yoga to manage their health. She reaches out to the world at

This post was edited by Nina Zolotow, co-editor of the Accessible Yoga blog and Editor in Chief of Yoga for Healthy Aging.

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