Therapeutic Yoga for Arthritis

By Kim McNeil, B.Sc., CYI

kimThere is something to this thing called yoga. I am not referring to the superficial ‘love yourself, love everyone’, touch-your-toes-and-be-saved propaganda in the media. I’m also not talking about the seeming trend of 1 out of every 1.5 woman aged between 6 and 60 flocking to teacher training programs. I am talking about true science. Now, brace yourself because here comes some of that science: a recent meta-analysis published in early 2013 is the newest piece of evidence to come out of the literature to support the benefits of yoga in the treatment of various medical conditions (Ward, L., 2013). You cannot argue there is something to be said about yoga as a genuine treatment option for chronic pain.

So dawns the age of yoga therapy. Although yoga therapy in itself is not new, the idea that someone could make a legitimate career out of being a yoga therapist is one we are only now beginning to wrap our meditated heads around. The discipline of combining modified yoga poses, exercises adapted by physical therapy and exercise physiology, breath work, and meditation make for a perfect storm when it comes to the treatment of stubborn pain.

Take arthritis for example. The M.O. of an arthritis sufferer often goes something like this: they feel pain, they stop moving, their joints are done a disservice by not being used, they become weaker, their pain increases, they start drug therapy, the drugs work but all too often not forever, they feel older than they are, and depression can set in. They end up on the couch, curled up like a dead spider, watching Honey Boo Boo because they can’t move far enough without pain to get the remote.

Those living with arthritis have specific needs, which are not always met by attending many traditional yoga classes. Instead of finishing a class with the usual euphoric feeling that everyone is your best friend even if they rear-end your Mini coming out of a studio parking lot, those with arthritis often leave feeling like they were left behind somewhere between Monkey Pose and Savasana. The pace, size, and style of many classes often don’t do enough to serve those with inflammation and joint issues, even when the teacher is well trained. Arthritic students feel a sense of not being able to keep up during class, have to sit out during certain poses, or come to believe their attendance in class was a waste of time.

What if we could break the cycle? What if arthritic clients could receive personalized attention instead of the usual script offered by traditional yoga classes? Therapy-based yoga involves designing a plan tailored to an individual’s specific needs. This type of program uses a ‘less is more’ approach where the therapist teaches the client safe movement patterns, how to avoid compensation, how to rebuild their body awareness, and how to eventually introduce strength building into their routine. The best instructors promote a collaborative approach involving other conventional therapists such as massage therapy, active release, and physiotherapy. What you end up with then are a Terminator-sized arsenal of holistic practitioners working together for the benefit of the client. The result is the individual in question improves faster with their strength, mobility, and pain management, feels a decrease in their pain levels, and experiences an overall improvement in their quality of life. What could be better than that?

Do you know someone living with arthritis? Are you that someone? On March 3, 2013 the 6th Annual Power of Movement Calgary is happening at Eau Claire Market from 11 am-12:30 pm.  Join me and hundreds of others for an all-levels, joint-friendly mega yoga class benefiting the Arthritis Research Foundation.  For more information, to register, or form your own team, head to:

Here’s to helping those living with arthritis feel better and live happier.

Kim McNeil is a Certified Yoga Instructor and Yoga Therapist based out of Calgary, AB. She specializes in working with those with arthritis, pain, and stress. She passion for working with creaky joints comes from seeing first-hand how arthritis has negatively affected the lives of her family and friends. She is in the midst of writing a book called ‘The Yoga for Arthritis Handbook’ slated for release in late 2013. Oh, and she can stand on her head.


Your final challenge!

It’s here – your final challenge of Power of Movement’s 30 day Challenge!!  What a great experience it has been – did you enjoy the ride?

30.  Celebrate the Power of Movement– the day is done, your yoga mat is packed up and it’s time to celebrate a job well done!  Feel great about following along with the Challenge, while raising funds and spreading the word about this great cause.  You can pat yourself on the back!  Congrats!

Your POMYYC team hopes you enjoyed the yoga class with us this morning and that maybe you had a chance to get your picture taken with a Stampeder or Outrider at the Yelp Calgary booth – so fun!  We certainly saw some people enjoying the massages from Omega and we definitely can’t blame them after all that hard work.

So many thanks to mention today – thank you to the Calgary Stampeders and Outriders for attending today; much thanks to Yelp Calgary for being awesome and offering the fun photo booth; big big thanks to Omega Massage & Wellness for offering the massages again this year; thank you to Citytv and Shaw for making appearances today; much appreciated to the volunteer adjusters represented from The Yoga Studio – Lynne, Colette, Moira, and Joann; huge thanks to Simone Hodgkinson of Spa Lady for co-teaching; and a thank you to our photographer Dave Blaine of Voyager Photography.  Phew!!  Hopefully we didn’t miss anyone, but of course we appreciate all the helpers, volunteers, ambassadors, sponsors and more for all the support today – you guys are AWESOME!!

Once we get all the tallies and numbers we’ll announce them here.  We’ll also post any links to pictures and posts that you may be interested in regarding POMYYC. We know there will be some great pics, so we can’t wait to see them ourselves!

Thank you again Calgary for doing your part in raising funds and supporting Power of Movement for arthritis and autoimmune disease research — your continued support is always MUCH appreciated!! : )

We made it!

We’re here, we made it!   Tomorrow is the big day Calgary!  How did your fundraising go?  Did you sign up?  We hope you did, but you still have a chance to show up at Eau Claire tomorrow by 10:30 am to sign up and take part in this mega-fun yoga session with Kim McNeil and Simone Hodgkinson!  Your $20 will go towards arthritis and autoimmune disease research – think about it, that’s a drop-in class or 4 lattes to a good cause!!

Next challenges – only 1 more to go!!:

28. YouTube is not just for videos of pets doing really cute things – check out the Power of Movement YouTube videos and then share them with as many people as you can!  Please help to continue spreading the word about this worthy cause.

29. One more sleep! – when you wake up tomorrow you can be happy that you have made it!  You will be done 30 challenges tomorrow and you’ll feel great for fundraising and attending POMYYC!  So tonight, relax and reflect on all the awesome you have done for the past month.  Get excited for the big day tomorrow and feel rested and ready for the day.  Congrats to you for your hard work!

Tomorrow morning bring your smiling face in comfy clothes and a yoga mat and be ready to do yoga for a great cause!  You’ll also be able to get a quick massage, visit the Yelp Calgary booth, and meet some Calgary Stampeders and Outriders – isn’t that exciting!?  Thank you for being part of such an amazing event – you rock Calgary!!


Eau Claire Market
202, 200 Barclay Parade SW
Calgary, AB T2P 4R5

Time & Date:
Sunday, March 4th, 2012
The class will be 60-75mins long and will begin at 11:00 AM
Please plan on arriving between 10:30 AM and 10:45 AM to ensure that you are signed in, you have dropped off any donations, and you get your ideal mat location. 

3 more days!

Yes, that’s right!  Three more days until POMYYC and we are pumped!  The event is certainly coming together and there are still some spots left to sign up.  Pre-registration closes tomorrow night, so please go to this link and sign up now!  You want to have a great morning of yoga, community, massages, and fun, right?!  Who doesn’t!

Our excitement really started to grow yesterday while we were up bright and early to be on CTV Calgary for the Morning Live show – we hope you had a chance to see us!  It was really fun to talk about Power of Movement and do a little yoga on TV with Cynthia Roebuck, even if it was super early! ; )  Thank you again to CTV Calgary and Cynthia for having us on at Spa Lady Canyon Meadows!!

We’re almost finished the 30 day challenge, here are your next challenges:

24. The last Meatless Monday of the challenge – How did you do on the last 3 Meatless Mondays?  This week the Power of Movement team offers up a snack suggestion from Fit in Heels in Toronto – DIY Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Energy Balls.  The Toronto team says they are delicious, we can’t wait to give them a try!

25. Tell people what you are up to on March 4th – today, tell at least 5 people about Power of Movement and why you are involved/attending.  Most people don’t know that arthritis and autoimmune diseases can affect young people in the prime of their lives.  Research is important for learning more and developing therapies to help those affected.  Spread the word, ask friends to attend, or recruit some sponsors today!

26. Cut down on your winter waste (brought to you by Bullfrog Power) – consider composting in the winter!  This may sound difficult, but the Power of Movement team has shared this link to give you ideas on how to get started.  Also check out the blog and book of Vanessa Farquharson, an environmental writer who also contributes to the National Post.

27. Use your power of movement for good – show someone who needs it that you care.  Really think about who around you might need a few words of encouragement or a listening ear.  Send them a note, card, or take him/her for coffee – you never know how much this small gesture might help.

Did you see that we were mentioned on as one of the top 5 things to do in YYC this week?  We think it’s pretty cool, check it out here!  We know you want to be doing something cool this week, so go ahead, sign up now!

We’re almost there YYC, can’t wait to see you on Sunday, March 4th!!

1 week left!

Only 1 WEEK till POMYYC!!  We’re getting really excited and hope you are too!  Haven’t signed up yet?  There’s still time – just go to this site right now… yes, right now!  You’ll be happy to join the POMYYC team and fellow Calgarians for a great morning of yoga and community for a good cause!  Plus, if you raise $50 this week, your sign up fee will be waived – isn’t that awesome?  We know you can do it!!

Did you know that POMYYC is kid friendly?  We encourage families to come out, have fun, and learn a little bit about yoga for arthritis.  The session will be for all levels, so parents and kids can enjoy getting their stretch on!  Learn more about signing up your family for the big day by following the link here!

Your next challenges (almost there!):

19. Tell two friends – pass on the word about Power of Movement to two friends and encourage them to tell 2 more and so on… let’s get as many bodies out as we can next Sunday, raising funds for arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

20. Reaching your goal – have you reached your goal yet?  If not, try asking a few friends to sponsor you, every dollar counts.  You could even ask around at work or your social clubs – if people know how passionate you are they usually feel more motivated to give!  Also, check out the prize offerings that you could be eligible for here.  If you’ve already made your goal, increase it!  Have fun raising a few extra dollars before the event.

21. Yoga for a good cause is a great idea – and that’s why Power of Movement isn’t the only doing it.  Consider checking out Yoga Outreach in Vancouver, a charity that aims to deliver yoga programs to those who cannot directly access these services.

22. Do something for someone else – do a good deed, help someone out, be a friend!  Today, choose something that will have a positive impact on someone else’s life.  Send a card, buy a friend a coffee, or shovel a sidewalk (especially today in Calgary!) to put a smile on someone’s face – it will feel great!

23. Start a conversation with someone new – have a conversation with someone you’ve never spoken to before, learn something about them and share a story or two.  Everyone comes from different backgrounds, so you never know what you may learn from this new person.  Also, you can mention Power of Movement and encourage this person to sign up! (Catching a theme of spreading the word yet? ;))

Get ready to join Calgary StampedersCalgary Stampeder OutridersYelp CalgaryCitytvliveBREATHEyogaSoul ConnexionThe Yoga StudioLululemon Athletica Market MallVoyager Photography, Calgary Hot Yoga, and the hundreds of others who will be attending on March 4th!!  See you there!

How is your fundraising going? What do you find works best for you?

Getting closer!

Welcome back!  Are you ready for the next 5 challenges?  Well, we have a few announcements for you first, then we can get to the good stuff!

Our lovely Kim McNeil will be speaking with Donna Wolff Freeman of tomorrow about POMYYC 2012, how you can get involved, and yoga for arthritis.  We are very excited for this talk – you can follow along on February 22 at 9:30 a.m. MST by following this link here.

Did you know that some of the Calgary Stampeders will be in attendance for POMYYC again?!  We are very excited and appreciative to have them joining us, it’s always fun to do yoga with football players!

Also, joining Kim McNeil on the big day will be Simone Hodgkinson of Spa Lady in Calgary!  We are pleased and grateful that she is joining the POMYYC team and will partner in teaching on March 4th.

You’ve waited long enough, here are your next 5 challenges:

14. No more stereotypes – many people do not know that arthritis and autoimmune diseases can affect people of all ages. Notably, 1 in 1000 children under 16 are living with a form of arthritis.  Today we encourage you to share this information with others, spread the word and learn more at

15. Halfway there (brought to you by MyYogaOnline) – Have you tried meditation yet? Today you should give it a try and experience the many benefits, such as improved sleep and reduced stress!  Check out MyYogaOnline for guided meditations to help you learn and find a routine that works for you.

16. Timing is everything – for a day, yes one whole day, your challenge is to try to be 5 minutes early for every appointment or meeting you have.  People will notice and you never know, it may even be habit forming!

17. Meatless Monday – two great suggestions from Power of Movement for a meatless lunch: Carrot Apple Ginger Soup and Portobello-Mushroom Grill.  Both are gluten free and sound delicious!

18. Take the stairs – start taking the stairs whenever you can to incorporate a little activity into your day.  It’s recommended that we get 30 minutes of activity per day and it doesn’t always have to be the gym.  Find other small ways to bring some activity throughout your day – park a little farther from the store, walk to the coffee shop instead of drive, etc. – and we know you’ll start to feel great!

If you haven’t signed up for POMYYC yet, now is the time!  Join us on March 4 for a great day of yoga, community, and raising funds for a great cause!

Do you have any questions about POMYYC?  Want to get involved? Let us know!

Sign up now! : )

Your next challenges!

First order of business, we just wanted to say thank you to those who came out to the POMYYC promo class at Lululemon Market Mall this past Sunday!  It was a great class with Kim McNeil and we appreciate Lululemon allowing us to invade their great space – so much fun!

Next up, we wanted to take a moment to welcome these new studio teams to Power of Movement Calgary: Lululemon Market Mall, SherYoga Therapy, liveBREATHEyoga.  They are working hard to raise funds for this worthy cause, while spreading the word about yoga and arthritis – consider joining or sponsoring one of the teams today!  Did you start a team? We apologize if we missed you, so let us know in the comments… promote your team!

Alright, the moment  you’ve been waiting for – the next challenges in the 30 day challenge:

9. Find your edge (brought to you by MyYogaOnline)  – do a class online or at a studio today and set an intention to ‘find your edge’ in each posture/asana, challenge yourself today!

10. Don’t skip breakfast! – there’s a reason it’s called the most important meal of the day, have a healthy breakfast today. Power of Movement offered this suggestion, check it out!

11. Show someone (or many people!) you love them – show some love to those around you by taking them to a yoga class, giving them a phone call, or donating a few dollars to their Power of Movement cause.

12. Become a Power of Movement Ambassador! – Check out more about our Ambassadors here or how to apply here. It’s a great way to get involved!

13. It’s easy to be green (brought to you by Bullfrog Power) – find ways to be a little more “green” in your life, Bullfrog has some great tips to get you started here.

We also want to welcome our official media sponsor for POMYYC 2012, Citytv!!  We are really glad to be working with them, so stay tuned for news and media spots about Power of Movement, some that are going to feature our own Kim McNeil!

Getting closer to the main event, how are you promoting your POMYYC cause?

Register Now  –  Join the Facebook discussion  –  Check out our Ambassadors