Yoga is a practice that connects the mind and body; consisting of three core elements; physical posture, breathing exercises and meditation. Yoga can be helpful to those with chronic pain, by improving flexibility, reducing inflammation, and improving our ability to cope with associated stressors.
There have been multiple studies that have concluded that yoga can improve daily functioning for those with chronic pain. In a 2010 study, yoga was found to reduce the inflammatory response by reducing the bodies own response to stress.
Multiple studies have shown that people with low back pain who consistently participate in yoga, have improved mobility and reduced pain. Studies have compared yoga to traditional exercise therapy for those with low back pain and the results have been comparable or even better with yoga.
Studies have even shown a correlation between yoga meditation and our perception of pain; yoga can decrease our perception of pain by dissociating the negative emotions from pain, helping us to be more accepting of pain.
Learning yoga can seem intimidating to those who have not tried it. There are multiple types of yoga, with different practices for breathing, meditation, or positions. A beginner can opt for an in-person class, there are yoga studios, or most gyms offer yoga. If classes aren’t for you, there are many videos online where you can learn about the different types of yoga and poses/breathing exercises you can try for free. Look for programs that are geared towards those with limited mobility, often referred to as yoga for beginners or gentle yoga. Chair yoga is another great option for those with chronic pain or limitations.
Before starting yoga or any exercise, it’s best to talk with your pain specialist about what might best meet your needs.
Here are a few video links to get you started:
- 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 is another tool to help you better manage your chronic pain. At Haven Spine + Pain we will work with you to learn what tools provide you the greatest benefit and facilitate a return to an active lifestyle.