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Aqua Yoga for Lupus

woman doing aqua yoga figure 4 pose in the pool with lupus

March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month and May is Lupus Awareness Month.  In support of people living with lupus, and raising awareness about autoimmune diseases in general, I’m offering this Aqua Yoga for Lupus sequence for free.  It includes a short 25-minute practice for when you need something mellow, and a full 45-minute practice for when you want something longer. 

You can print it out and have it laminated to use poolside.  It has all the directions you need for the postures and is printed large enough you hopefully can do it without your glasses.

I don’t have lupus, can I still use the aqua yoga for lupus sequence?

Yes, absolutely.  There is no such thing as a yoga pose for lupus or any other disease.  Yoga is a system of linking your movement with your breath while focusing your mind to stay in the moment.  As a systemic practice, it has systemic benefits that help anyone, whether or not they have a systemic disease. 

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect any organ.  The most common kind is Systemic lupus erythematosus which can vary in severity and attacks the kidneys, heart, and skin.  For more information about lupus or Put on Purple Day, visit the Lupus Foundation of America’s website.

Points to keep in mind while using this sequence if you have lupus or another rheumatological disease:

Always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Always work at the level that’s right for.  This sequence has suggestions for practice.  Customize it to make it right for your body.  For example, you might do a pose differently on one side of your body than the other to accommodate joint pain.

The sequence has a built in stop point to check in with yourself.  If you’re having a flare, be kind, stop there.  Some exercise is better than none, and there’s always tomorrow.

How does aqua yoga help lupus or any other disease?

woman doing aqua yoga poses with lupusLupus patients deal with chronic pain, fatigue, and somtimes depression, all of which make it hard to exercise.  Yet, everyone needs exercise and we all know being a couch potato is not good for us.  Lupus patients need access to exercise that is safe and appropriate.  Some lupus patients have a background in sports and exercise and are triathletes, some need gentle Tai Chi.  There is no “exercise for lupus”.  It’s about choosing the type and level of exercise that fits your needs. 

I participated in a preliminary research study about the potential benefits of yoga for people living with lupus.  Yoga for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Clinician experiences and qualitative perspectives from students and yoga instructors living with SLE is available through PubMed.  Hopefully, these preliminary studies spur more research into exercise and the benefits of yoga for people living with lupus.

Aqua Yoga for Lupus

Aqua yoga is a great option on the gentler side of things if that’s what you’re needing.  There have not been any studies done on the benefits of aqua yoga for lupus so we have to infer from research done on land yoga and research done on aquatics.  I wrote a long bibliography on aqua yoga for arthritis research you can read for that background.   On land, yoga for rheumatic diseases(1) and yoga for arthritis(2) has a limited bit of research available.  If we summarize and extrapolate from what we do have, we can infer aqua yoga has these benefits for people living with rheumatic diseases:

  • reduces pain
  • reduces disease activity
  • improves flexibility
  • improves mood
  • increases self – efficacy
  • improves quality of life
  • improves balance

There was a study published very recently about exercise for lupus patients doing kiniesotherapy.  Kiniesotherapy has some similarities to yoga and it showed increased flexibility and reductions in pain with no increase in disease activity for participants(3).

More info on aqua yoga

If you enjoyed using this sequence, or are intrigued by aqua yoga and are looking for more information, read my Ultimate Guide to Aqua Yoga.

Get the Aqua Yoga for Lupus Sequence and a complete package of resources for managing arthritic conditions in the Aqua Yoga for Arthritis Course



Living with multiple kinds of arthritis personally, aqua yoga for arthritis isn’t just a professional interest, it’s a personal journey.

Aqua yoga is what I use to

  • stay out of pain
  • keep my muscles strong despite my eroded joints
  • stay flexible with the support of the water so I don’t strain damaged connective tissues
  • keep my stress in check because you better believe Covid-19 increases stress
  • keep my outlook positive because arthritis can bring you down

And I’ve helped hundreds of other people to do the same thing locally. You may not have access to an aqua yoga teacher or you might be locked out of your classes right now. That’s what the Aqua Yoga for Arthritis Course is for.

Helping you achieve all these benefits of the practice at your pace.

To make this happen you get immediate access to:

  • 11 videos including a full 45-minute professionally produced practice class and a 30-minute discussion on how the other 7 limbs of yoga can help you
  • 30-page course workbook for the days you can’t make it to the pool
  • a guided meditation for pain relief to use anytime
  • an audio recording of your practice class to download to your phone so you practice along in the pool
  • a PDF with full directions from the class so you can laminate a waterproof poolside copy

And what makes this a course and a real learning opportunity, not just a video to gather dust, is the private session you get with me. We’ll spend half an hour customizing the class for your kind of arthritis and your needs, so you’ll always have a way to practice that’s best for you. I’m looking forward to working with you in the course.

1 Yoga in Rheumatic Diseases

2 Yoga in Sedentary Adults with Arthritis

3 Increased flexibility, pain reduction and unaltered levels of IL-10 and CD11b + lymphocytes in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus were associated with kinesiotherapy

This article was originally published in May 2018 and updated in March 2020.

christa

I'm a yoga teacher who specializes in making yoga accessible in the pool and on land. I also train and coach other yoga and aquatics professionals in aqua yoga. My teaching style is engaging, responsive, and fun. 

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