Living with pain is a challenge. Not only the pain itself but the fatigue, sleep disruption, mental anguish, and social withdrawal that often accompany it.
And then there are the medications. Painkillers can be effective but come with various potential side effects, including addiction.
Yoga may be just what you need if you’re looking for an alternative to medication.
Throughout multiple clinical studies, yoga is consistently demonstrated to help people living with pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, and more. It can help relieve the pain while also:
● promoting relaxation
● improving mobility and functioning
● reducing stress
● improving sleep quality
● improving self-efficacy and self-esteem
● enhancing quality of life
Bring Your Awareness Inside Your Body
Yoga sessions nearly always begin by asking you to bring your awareness inward.
Pay attention to your breathing. Notice how your body feels in this present moment.
This may seem like a pointless exercise, but it’s quite powerful. This mindfulness provides a very useful therapeutic intervention for managing your pain. It can help reduce any stress, anxiety, or worries you may feel in relation to your pain.
It can also help you separate the sensation of pain from the emotional experience of suffering. You feel the pain, but you don’t need to dwell in the misery of it.
As you move through your yoga poses, be mindful of your breath. Breathe in and out, fully and slowly. This will help stimulate the relaxation response of your parasympathetic nervous system, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure while also promoting a sense of calm.
Start Slow And Gentle
Yoga is not a competitive sport. There is no prize for who can touch their toes the fastest or stand on their head the longest. You don’t need to jump into intense action at the sound of a starting gun.
Ease into each session by starting with some basic, gentle stretching. Don’t rush through it. Take your time. It’s not a race.
You can learn about poses through videos or classes. Suppose you’re dealing with chronic pain or recovering from an injury. In that case, you may want to consider a qualified physical therapist who can help design a program specifically for your needs and guide you through the motions.
Find Your Edge
In yoga, you’re asked to explore your range of motion and push yourself further with each pose. But you’re never asked to go beyond your capacity.
Notice how your body feels as you move from one position to another. Be aware of any areas of tightness, discomfort, or pain.
Be mindful of the different types of pain you may feel.
There is a difference between the sensation of pain that comes with stretching a muscle and the sharp, shooting pain of an injury. Some degree of discomfort is to be expected when you’re stretching, but significant pain is a sign to back off.
Work With Your Pain, Not Against It
In yoga, you learn to work with your pain rather than fight against it.
You become more aware of the pain sensation and what movements you are and aren’t capable of. Through this bodily awareness, you develop a greater sense of control and confidence in your ability to manage your pain.
There may be some poses that are too painful for you to do. Modify the pose or find an alternative that doesn’t trigger your pain.
Remember, the purpose of yoga is to help you feel better, not worse. Use these movements as a tool to ease your pain, not aggravate it. They can strengthen your muscles, improve your mobility, and help you recover.