Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can result in severe disability. All over the world, the prevalence of this disease varies from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent. The symptoms associated include back pain, progressive rigidity, stiffness over the neck, shoulder, hip and sacroiliac joints. With the disease’s progress, patients can suffer from reduced quality of life due to significant disability.

While conventional medicines increase the chances of side effects, the ancient science of yoga can be beneficial in promoting flexibility and reducing pain. In fact, a meta-analysis of 10 studies in 2012 revealed that yoga assists in relieving chronic lower back pain.


It was also concluded by the study that yoga can be an effective therapy for back pain patients who do not witness any improvement with other self-care treatments. Another retrospective study published by the National Library of Medicine showed that yoga intervention in AS patients can significantly improve spinal flexibility and lung capacity. (The writer is chief yoga officer at Jindal Naturecure Institute)

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis? 
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) causes inflammation that may result in fusing of some of the vertebrae in the lower back. It can also affect other areas like cartilage between the ribs and breastbone, shoulder and hip joints, areas in the body where the bones are attached to ligaments and tendons, heels and eyes. However, daily practice of yoga can take a turn for the good for AS patients. While mild pain is normal during the initial phases of practice, if there is severe pain, the movement must be stopped.

Here are 5 yoga poses for pain management with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie down flat on the stomach
Place the palms under the shoulders
Keep the toes together with the feet on the ground
Inhale and gradually lift the head, shoulders and torso to an angle of 30 degrees
Slightly raise the head and broaden the shoulders
Release the torso and exhale

Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Kneel on the floor and sit on the heels
Inhale and lift the arms up
While exhaling, bring the upper body down
Rest the pelvis on your heels and place the forehead on the floor
Don’t hunch your back

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)
Start on all fours with the shoulders above the wrists and the hips above the knees
Bring the hands slightly forward and rotate the upper arms to broaden your collarbones
Extend and lengthen the spine, by pressing through the palms of the hands and balls of the feet
While breathing properly, hold the position for 30 seconds and release.

Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Lie flat on the stomach with the palms placed under the shoulders
With the toes on the ground, keep the feet together
Inhale, retain the breath and slowly lift the torso, shoulders and head up
Lift up both legs and arms
While exhaling, bring the chin to the ground