By Heather Collins
The Indiana Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America will offer free yoga and tai chi classes at IU North Hospital. They are available to people with lupus and one caregiver or support person.
The foundation wants to grow the program and offer classes throughout the state.
Tai chi and yoga classes are led by Pam Glenn and Bonnie Sweeney. Glenn is a certified and Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga teacher at the 200 level. Sweeney is a licensed occupational therapist with more than 40 years of experience.
According to Sweeney, the benefits of tai chi for lupus patients include marked decrease in pain, better breathing, lowered stress levels and improved balance, mobility and cognitive functioning.
“Lupus is a disease that affects every system in your body,” Sweeney said. “What tai chi does for lupus, and really cardiovascular issues, is that your blood pressure is lowered. If you have lung issues, your breathing, your ability to relax your lung tissues is enhanced.”
Sweeney said the classes are non-threatening, and participants are encouraged to go at their own pace. The classes are offered in a seated or chair-supported format.
According to the Lupus Foundation, tai chi and yoga can be a great tool for dealing with the symptoms of lupus, including swollen joints and fatigue. The gentler exercises offer an alternative to more intense forms of exercises, such as aerobics or weight-lifting.
“You do what your body is comfortable doing,” Sweeney said. “If nothing else, just flow.”
IU North Hospital is at 11700 N. Meridian St. The class is free, but registration is required. Classes are open to people 16 and older. Sessions are typically held on the second and fourth Saturday each month. Attendees are encouraged to check with their doctor prior to starting the exercise program.
For information and to sign up, visit lupus.org/indiana.