Yoga & Chronic Pain Relief
Getting started with Yoga is easier than one may think, and the benefits from a pain management standpoint, are immense!
How Yoga Helps Relieve Chronic Pain
One of the greatest benefits of yoga is that it can help ease pain and make it easier to manage.
The Perception of Pain
Yoga can decrease our pain perception, meaning people feel their pain is less strong and severe, than it was before practicing. In one study, a form of mindfulness meditation called yoga nidra helped combat veterans achieve moderately important to statistically significant reductions in pain perception.
Another powerful benefit gained from practicing yoga regularly is something called pain interference (how much pain disrupts daily life). Most of our patients see a major decrease in pain interference. Yoga accomplishes this by decreasing your pain perception by dissociating negative emotions from pain, allowing people to feel accepting and positive towards their pain.
Yoga has also been proven to decrease neck pain while improving ones mood. A regular yoga practice can decrease disability and improve quality of life for people with chronic pain by promoting a positive outlook and making daily pain easier to manage.
Inflammation is often associated with chronic pain conditions, especially autoimmune diseases (where the body's immune system attacks itself). Research suggests that yoga can reduce inflammation by decreasing the body’s stress response. When the body is less stressed, it is also less inflamed.
The benefits of yoga on inflammation have been proven for both new and expert practitioners. Yoga can potentially be beneficial for chronic pain at any age and regardless of experience level. Many people the world over continue to practice yoga well into old age, with amazing results where quality of life is concerned.
Flexibility and Range of Motion
Experiencing chronic pain can make it difficult to stay active, which can result in decreased flexibility and limited range of motion. Yoga can provide short term improvements in functional disability among people with chronic low back pain CLBP). Specifically, a meta-analysis showed that people who practiced yoga regularly for at least six weeks reported reductions in pain and improvements in mobility. Interestingly, the benefits of yoga persisted across varying styles, including, but not limited to Iyengar, hatha, and viniyoga.
This demonstrates that no matter what type of yoga you practice, you will experience its benefits, and that yoga may be more effective at pain reduction than standard exercise because it combines strength, flexibility, and breathing techniques proven to relieve stress and inflammation.
What a Typical Yoga Session Looks Like
Standard yoga sessions last between 45 and 75 minutes. However, shorter classes of 10 or 15 minutes also offer pain relief benefits when practiced regularly. Yoga classes usually begin with mindfulness practices, including meditation and breathing exercises.
The middle portion of a yoga class is reserved for dynamic stretches and movement, while the end provides another opportunity to relax in a final resting pose called savasana. This is a time to focus on your breathing and reap the mental benefits of your practice.
Some Beginner Tips
When starting yoga for the first time, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t try to push yourself further than what feels comfortable
If you feel pain, pinching, or any other sensations related to pain, slowly come out of the pose
Yoga won’t be helpful to your body if you’re injured, so it’s better to take it slow and easy at first
Resources for At-Home Yoga
It’s normal to feel nervous or unsure about starting yoga for the first time. Practicing yoga at home is a great way to learn poses and feel more confident. The internet offers a wide range of options for free, beginner-friendly yoga.
Try these yoga for pain relief resources:
Yoga for Pain Relief by YOGATX: This video guides beginners through restful stretches to ease pain and tension in the back and neck
Yoga for Chronic Pain by Yoga with Adriene: This video shows how to create harmony between the breath and body. It can be performed in a chair or on a mat
Restorative Chair Yoga for Chronic Pain by Sleepy Santosha Yoga: This is a video of a chair yoga class that shows the therapeutic benefits of yoga without having to sit on the floor
Meditations for Sleep and Healing by Kalyani: This podcast provides yoga nidra classes, including iRest techniques, designed to help you release stress and tension to feel better
Yoga Nidra for Chronic Pain by Ann Swanson Wellness: The techniques in this video are meant to help you better manage your reaction to chronic pain to reduce pain intensity
Yoga Poses for Pain Relief
Yoga for Knee Pain
The modified hero pose is a great way to stretch the front ligaments of the knee to provide gentle opening. Instead of doing this kneeling pose on the ground, sit on a block or thick pillow between your ankles while performing this pose.
Yoga for Back Pain
A seated twist is a gentle way to release tension throughout the back and increase spinal mobility. This yoga pose can be practiced in a chair or while seated on the ground.
Yoga for Hip Pain
A yoga squat is a simple way to reduce hip pain. Position your feet wider than hip width distance apart, and bring your elbows inside your knees (or on top of them). Then, place your hands in prayer position. You can sit on a block or pillow to perform this pose.
Yoga for Shoulder Pain
The puppy dog pose can open up your chest and upper back to release tension. Extend your arms and place your hands flat on a wall or the ground. Stretch your hips back away from your hands, and rest your head in between your shoulders.
Yoga for Sciatica Pain
Happy baby is a simple pose that involves lying down and bringing your knees into your armpits. You can take hold of your legs or feet and gently rock back and forth to massage the low back.
Other Chronic Pain Solutions
Our clinic located in Pooler, GA is now offering alternative pain solutions. Click this link to visit our Neuropathy Page and see what everyone is talking about! You can also contact us 24 hours a day by clicking the link below. This will take you to our Facebook Messenger service, allowing you to learn more about all of our services and speak to one of our highly trained medical consultants.
114 Canal Street Ste 201
Pooler, GA, 31322
Office: (912) 988-3839