Practicing Yoga Can Conquer Chronic Pain
“The purpose of achieving equanimity through yoga is to diminish suffering”
– The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Aphorism 2, Chapter 2
Increased flexibility and muscle strength. Weight reduction, balanced metabolism and improved athletic performance. It is no secret that the benefits of practicing yoga are plentiful but did you know that when practiced correctly, yoga also has the ability to counteract chronic pain?
Though chronic pain is primarily associated with structural damage to the body, it can also be responsible for triggering depression and anxiety inside of the brain. The fear and anxiety of worsening the chronic pain physically can put your body and mind into a constant state of “alert” causing psychological debilitation. Changes in breathing, increased muscle tension, perception of body image and less energy and optimism are just a few sure signs that your chronic pain is controlling your mind-body connection.
Yoga improves your overall energy and sense of personal well-being by increasing the natural flow of oxygen to your muscle tissues and brain. In combination with the physical movements, range of motion and breathing awareness used while doing yoga, mental stress – and your chronic pain – can drastically decrease.
Pick Your Pose’in
There are different advantages for each type of yoga that can be practiced. It is recommended that you consult with your chronic pain doctor to find the best type of yoga to help alleviate your chronic pain.
- Hatha yoga – This form of yoga increases range of motion, keeps joints warm, and strengthens muscles that support the joints. It is a slower pace yoga with many modifications that slowly increases range of motion, flexibility, and strength.
- Yin yoga – This form of yoga stretches and targets the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. Yin increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas. It also helps regulate the body’s flow of energy.
- Restorative yoga – This form of yoga is helpful to ease and quiet the mind while relaxing and easing tensely knotted muscles through the use of props that allow you to hold poses longer, giving you all the benefits of deep, passive stretching.
- Lyengar yoga – This form of yoga emphasizes precision and physical alignment of the body, in addition to gaining flexibility, balance, and strength.
To further manage pain, it also helps to not smoke, limit alcohol, practice good sleep hygiene,eat healthfully, and exercise self-compassion.
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