Yoga is an ancient Eastern art and exercise that's growing in popularity every year in America. Aside from giving your muscles some serious work, it helps you to relax, and can alleviate bone, joint and muscle-related pain, according to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

If you're considering adding yoga to your exercise regimen to treat arthritis in your hip, be sure to consult with your doctor and physical therapist first. Here are some other points to keep in mind:

• Yoga takes a holistic approach to treating arthritis. Yoga benefits your body as a whole as well as your spiritual well-being. When you practice yoga to relieve arthritis in your hip, you'll also learn how to breathe, focus, relax, and to realign your body. You'll also learn to listen to your body and recognize and accept your limitations, according to the AAOS.

• You can perform yoga even if you have limited movement. Some yoga poses, or asanas, can be quite challenging. You may need to sit in a chair, or use other supports. However, it's still possible to get a good session in. Try to find a yoga instructor who is trained to work with people who have arthritis. She'll be more knowledgeable about modifying certain poses and can better assist you with proper techniques for your condition.

• Yoga helps to improve balance. A common side effect of hip damage from arthritis instability and loss of balance. Yoga poses such as tree and one-legged balance can strengthen your legs and feet, and improve flexibility in your knees and hips. You'll also enhance alignment in your body, which relieves pressure on your joints. Use props to support yourself if necessary.

• Yoga helps to keep hip structures flexible. Arthritis in your hip makes your joints stiff, which damages your hips, and throws your pelvis and spine out of alignment. Yoga exercises can improve flexibility and strength in your hip flexors--the muscles that lift your leg as you climb stairs and other joint structures.

• Some exercises may harm your hips. Make it a priority to be gentle to your joints. When you have arthritis in your hips, be careful during poses that require you to spread your legs or rotate your hips. Also, the AAOS recommends keeping backbends small and not over-extending your neck. As yoga teaches you to pay attention to your body, notice when you're feeling pain and stop the exercise.

• You may be able to do yoga with a hip replacement. The type of replacement you have will make some poses off limits, for instance, those that include hip rotation. But you may be able to do others such as spread-leg poses. Consult closely with your doctor and physical therapist before you attempt yoga after a hip replacement.

• Don't wear overly loose clothing. Correct alignment is essential to effective yoga practice. Your clothes should be comfortable, but not baggy, as this will prevent the instructor and you from seeing if you're body is properly aligned during each asana.