Yoga for Chronic Pain Relief

Living with chronic pain of any kind is a humbling experience.  Pain causes our lives to change in both small and major ways.  Unexpectedly we find ourselves needing to create a new relationship to our body, mind and spirit – a process that can be frustrating and confusing.  Yoga for Chronic Pain Relief addresses such realities through the following practices:

 Gentle, Progressive, Easily Modified Physical Yoga Postures (Asana)

  • Stress/pain makes muscles go into spasms.  Asana, beyond its ability to induce relaxation, can be an effective way to relieve muscle tightness that both causes and is the result of chronic pain. In addition and in contrast to many other forms of movement, yoga promotes both strength and flexibility in muscles.

Self-awareness (Svadhyaya)

  • Yoga differentiates pain and suffering. Pain can't be avoided entirely, but how much it affects you—how much you suffer—is related to your thoughts, expectations, and wanting things to be different.
  • Increased self-understanding and self-acceptance changes context of pain, lessening suffering, and improving life-style.

Modern science and yoga agree: our present pain and suffering have roots related to past pain, trauma, stress, loss, and illness and the very real biology of your thoughts, emotions, expectations, and memories.  Often pain is sustained by how initial experiences/beliefs or traumas changed not just the body but also the mind-body relationship.  Self-awareness brings light to such relationships and allows room for new ones to begin.

Restorative Relaxation Techniques

  • Anxiety decreases our ability to tolerate pain, and pain, in turn, creates anxiety.  Simple effective relaxation techniques help break this anxiety loop.

Positive Psychology Practices

  • Discovering all that is not being painful in daily life helps create balance and gratitude, and helps shift focus from pain, softening its psychological and physical effects. 

Community

  • Being in a group can help alleviate pain by easing the sense of isolation that can come from pain.

Breathing Techniques (Pranayama)

  • Pranayama can be a powerful way to quickly relax the nervous system, shifting the balance from our fight-or-flight-or-freeze tendencies (often connected to the cause of recurring pain) to our capacity to relax and restore our nervous systems to a less reactive level, disrupting the pain cycle.

Personal Spiritual Connection

  • Touching upon the spiritual domain, however one chooses to do so, creates meaning, hope, purpose and relatedness – all of which reduce suffering.