This question gets asked quite frequently: basically the question is - can (or should) a student who has arthritis do Yin Yoga? Is it good for her? The answer, as always, is Yes but maybe No! It all depends. She should first check with her health care professional.
I know, this is a vague answer, but without knowing the exact condition of the student, where the arthritis is, and how severe it is, it is impossible to suggest a detailed approach. But let me talk about the 4 reasons people may want to include Yin Yoga as part of their yoga practice. People do Yin Yoga so they can get the following;
i) Physiological benefits
ii) Energetic Benefits
iii) Emotional and Mental Benefits
iv) Spiritual Benefits
We won't go into each area in detail, that would take a whole book! But just by listing these 4 key reasons we can see that the physical reasons for doing a Yin Yoga practice is not the only reason. Even if a student has limited range of motion or mobility, she can still get the other benefits of Yin Yoga. So, with proper care and instruction, why not let her do a gentle form of Yin Yoga?
Obviously you can create a Yin Yoga class that would be gentle enough for someone with severe arthritis, but the question is - will you? If you are offering a general Yin Yoga class and invite this particular student to join the class, you will have to dial back the intensity and time for each posture a lot. As a result your class may become too gentle for your regular students. Is that fair to them? I don't know, you would have to check your class situation and decide. I suspect a better option would be to invite this student to a private class, or direct her to a restorative yoga class, where many of the poses are yin-like anyway.
Physiologically, there are benefits to compressing the joints and bones. This is covered in other posts. Whether this particular student is ready for the stress, however, you can't decide. Again, she needs professional guidance. With that, you can perhaps work with her, one-on-one to create a therapeutic Yin Yoga sequence for her. Below, I am including an edited version of, and a link to, a study that was recently reported in Science about the progress that is being made in rebuilding tissues, and the role that stressing the tissue plays in the recovery.
Coming Soon to a Knee Near You: Cartilage Like Your Very Own
Weaving materials science and biology together, researchers are drawing closer to the elusive goal of recreating tissues that do the body's work, such as cartilage and muscle
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/f ... /5907/1460
The most common type of cartilage damage is the widespread loss of tissue that's a hallmark of many forms of arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis costs the U.S. economy alone $128 billion per year in medical bills and indirect expenses, including lost wages and productivity. In arthritis patients, the healthy cartilage that lubricates and cushions the impact between adjoining bones breaks down over time. Bones then rub directly against one another, causing pain and loss of movement in the joint. Cartilage contains no nerves. So by the time patients feel pain, significant amounts of cartilage may already be gone.
Researchers have focused on coaxing the body to grow its own additional cartilage cells on a synthetic template, rather than trying to recreate cartilage from scratch. Researchers have seeded cartilage-producing chondrocytes onto synthetic scaffolds in vitro for decades in hopes that this would cause the cells to generate new cartilage with the same impressive properties as the native version. But the results have almost always been disappointing. Chondrocytes do grow and put out a mixture of collagen and charged compounds called proteoglycans. But the resulting cartilage winds up far weaker.
Ateshian has recently made tougher cartilage by applying a little force of his own. Growing cartilage can sense mechanical stress and responds by becoming stronger, akin to the way that weight training helps build strong bones. Ateshian applied this principle back in 2000, when his team reported seeding a culture of chondrocytes onto a synthetic hydrogel and compressing the gel in a chamber. The resulting new cartilage was five times stronger than that created without mechanical loading. Recently, the team has boosted that strength up to about 20% of that of native cartilage by cycling the compression on and off and adding a cocktail of growth factors.
In a variation on this theme, Rocky Tuan, a tissue engineer at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, is also putting weight on tissues and adding growth factors. But Tuan and his colleagues deposit their cells atop fibers of a biodegradable polymer called poly(alpha-hydroxy ester). Tuan first learned to spin the fibers a decade ago with an apparatus akin to those that spin cotton candy from sugar. His lab has since perfected techniques to align the fibers to better control cartilage growth and resist compression. Tuan says his team's artificial cartilage now also has about 20% of the strength of native cartilage. "We would like to get to 40% to 50%," Tuan says. He adds that most clinicians believe that will be good enough to restore mobility for many patients. In a paper in press at the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Tuan and his colleagues report that after implanting their synthetic cartilage into pigs' hip joints, the material seemed to integrate well with the native cartilage; the animals appeared to walk normally as well.