Annabel Fitzsimmons: Meditating Mummy


Doing Yoga for Arthritis Research

The Power of Movement

In my work as a yoga teacher, I have a number of clients with some form of arthritis or auto-immune disease. Many people think arthritis is a disease that affects only the elderly or former pro athletes. Not true. The average age for onset of arthritis is between 41 and 50, no pro sports experience required. And a lesser-known but important fact is that it is among the most common chronic diseases in children. Arthritis comes in many shapes and forms. There are over 100 different types, and it estimated that 4.6 million Canadians live with some variety of the disease. From conditions like osteoarthritis to lupus to rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms can range from mild to severe. But all have an effect on daily living.

And although my clients’ conditions affect them in different ways—like any challenge or affliction—there is one common thread: they all want to keep doing yoga. Why? Because it makes them feel better. Even though some of my clients have to modify their practice quite severely to accommodate the changes in their bodies, the simple act of movement—which so many of us take for granted—keeps them moving forward in life, both mentally and physically. And the focus on breathing and mind control are other facets of a yoga practice that can be of great help to anyone experiencing symptoms of one of the many types of arthritis.

The Power of Movement, a fundraiser hosted by the Arthritis Research Foundation (ARF) takes yoga one step beyond an individual’s journey on the yoga mat. This event not only celebrates the ability to move our bodies, but it raises much-needed funds for arthritis and autoimmune disease research.

An initiative that first launched in Toronto in 2005, the Power of Movement is now a fundraiser that involves communities across Canada. On March 4, 2012, Canadians can take to their yoga mats to support critical arthritis research. Events are both large scale (in gyms and fitness centres) and small scale (in yoga/Pilates studios and individual efforts) but all have a common goal: do yoga for a good cause.

Every 60 seconds there is a new diagnosis of osteoarthritis in Canada. Arthritis receives 1% of federally-granted research dollars, but accounts for 10% of hospital admissions in Canada. Saluting the sun has never been more important.

So, whether it’s for the health of your kids, for your current or future health, or for the millions of Canadians living with arthritis today, I encourage you to participate in the Power of Movement on March 4, 2012. Because you can.