Yoga is a practice that helps you connect your body and mind. It has been practiced for more than 4,000 years. There are three elements to yoga – physical posture, meditation, and breathing. There are many benefits to practicing yoga, including managing certain medical conditions and pain.
Some studies show that yoga is helpful in reducing pain and inflammation in people with fibromyalgia, neck and back pain, and those with chronic headaches. In addition to the physical benefits, many people also find mental relief through relaxation and breathing techniques that help reduce stress.
How Yoga Helps Manage Pain
Yoga is not an appropriate method of managing pain for everyone. It should not be used in place of your doctor’s instructions. It is also not appropriate for all types of illness. Yoga may actually worsen severe or acute illnesses if you are not careful.
If you have certain conditions and get the “all clear” from your doctor, yoga can be very beneficial for pain relief. Put together by a Portland yoga studio, here’s how:
Decrease Pain Perception
Yoga can help you decrease your pain perception. Studies show that mindfulness meditation and yoga can reduce pain perception and interference. How? By separating pain from negative emotions. This helps people feel less negatively toward their pain. It also helps generally improve mood and quality of life. Having a better, more positive outlook on life helps people with chronic pain feel better and manage their pain better.
Yoga can help reduce inflammation in the body, which also decreases your body’s stress response. People with chronic pain or autoimmune disorders can benefit from yoga, no matter their age or skill level.
Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion
Having chronic pain and inflammation can make it difficult to live an active lifestyle. After all, no one wants to make their pain worse. As a result, many people with chronic pain also have limited flexibility and range of motion. Yoga can help improve both of these, providing reduced pain and improvements in mobility. What’s even more promising is that various types of yoga seem to be beneficial, which makes it a great choice for people of all ages and skill levels.
Tips for Starting Yoga
If you want to give yoga a try to help relieve pain and inflammation, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you start:
- Find a teacher who is experienced in leading yoga classes designed for pain relief.
- When you get started, avoid pushing yourself too far too fast. Only do what is comfortable.
- If, during yoga, you feel pain, tingling, or pinching, slowly relax out of the pose and let your teacher know.
- If you plan to do yoga at home, try to find an online resource to learn more about which types of yoga are best for your needs.
Yoga Poses that Relieve Pain
As you get started with your yoga practice, talk to your teacher about the following poses, which are commonly known to relieve pain.
- Modified hero pose: May relieve knee pain
- Seated twist: May relieve back pain
- Yoga squat: May reduce hip pain
- Puppy dog pose: May relieve shoulder pain
- Happy baby: May relieve sciatica pain
These and other poses may be beneficial in relieving pain. As mentioned before, it is important to speak with a doctor and/or yoga instructor about using yoga as a means of pain relief.
As you begin your yoga practice, remember that one of the great things about yoga is that it can be modified to meet your needs and ability. Just remember to be upfront with your teacher about your health conditions and goals.