This 60-minute Viniyoga series is proven to help reduce your number of nights with sleep disturbance caused by osteoarthritis pain.
Unfortunately, 50 percent of older adults with osteoarthritis suffer from insomnia and experience restless sleep, have trouble staying asleep and have trouble falling asleep. It’s very likely that you, or someone you love, has or will get osteoarthritis. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this health condition currently effects 27 million Americans and one out of two Americans will suffer from some kind of osteoarthritis in their lifetime.
The Viniyoga Prescription
In this eight-week Viniyoga study for osteoarthritis, researchers from the University of Washington enrolled 13 women between the ages 55 and 85. The women took a 60-minute Hatha Yoga class once per week and practiced yoga for 20 to 60 minutes – with an average of 22.6 minutes – each night with an audio CD before bedtime. The classes and home practice sessions used a Hatha Yoga approach based on Viniyoga, a therapeutic style of yoga, and followed this sequence: relaxation, seated and supine Hatha Yoga poses, breathing exercises and final relaxation.
In an exclusive interview with YogaHathaYoga.com, Diana M. Taibi, PhD, RN — a researcher from this study — shared the sequence of the yoga prescription for osteoarthritis insomnia, which is not available in the report published in a 2011 issue of the journal Sleep Medicine.
60-Minute Viniyoga Series for Osteoarthritis Insomnia
A) Seated Yoga Breathing Exercises – Pranayama – 10 minutes
- Breath awareness
- Inhale and exhale at a ratio of about 1:2
- Partitioned Breath – Viloma: with lengthened exhalation, add a brief pause (<1 second) halfway through exhalation
B) Seated Poses – 15 minutes
- Shoulder warm-up: shrug and circles
- Seated Cat/Cow Pose
- Side Bending – Utthita Parsvakonasana
- Forward Bend with legs together – Uttanasana
- Twist – Bharadvajasana
- Wide-legged Forward Bend – Prasarita Padottanasana
C) Supine Poses – 15 minutes: Participants use a chair to descend safely to the floor
- Reclining Big Toe Pose – Supta Eka Padangusthasana: one leg at a time
- Hip Circles – Padachakrasana
- Knee to Chest Pose – Ekapada Apanasana: one leg at a time
- Knees to Chest – Apanasana
- Abdominal Twist – Jathara Parivrtti: lower both knees to one side, then the other
- Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
D) Seated Yoga Breathing Exercises – Pranayama – 10 minutes
- Same sequence as the opening series of Pranayama
- Modified Corpse Pose – Shavasana: legs elevated on a chair and blankets provided for comfort and support as needed
To obtain the data for this study, the researchers conducted interviews, had the women complete questionnaires and required participants to keep a sleep diary for seven days before beginning the yoga protocol and for the first seven days after they completed the eight weeks of yoga.
Does Viniyoga Relieve Osteoarthritis Insomnia?
After reviewing the data, the researchers concluded, “The study demonstrated that an evening yoga practice…was highly feasible and produced promising preliminary efficacy findings.” The women experienced a significant improvement in their Insomnia Severity Index and a significant reduction in the number of nights they suffered from insomnia symptoms.
The most common adverse effects of the yoga classes were lumbar and shoulder soreness, but the soreness subsided either with continued practice or when the yoga instructor modified the offending pose. All three women who reported muscle cramps in their calves during yoga class experienced this discomfort during the Bridge Pose, but the cramps went away as the program went along. One woman experienced mild vertigo that was reduced, but not eliminated, by “elevating her head on a blanket during supine poses.”