Chronic pain dramatically impacts quality of life, causing many people to ignore the activities they love or risk-taking potentially addicting pain killers. However, studies show that yoga for chronic pain relief helps 89% of chronic pain sufferers.
In fact, participants in the study reported:
- Drastic pain improvement
- Lower levels of disability
- A drop in depression
If you’re struggling with chronic pain and are searching for relief, yoga is a natural, effective treatment option to consider.
Yoga for Chronic Pain Relief: How Does it Help?
Yoga can help you stretch out tight muscles, build strength and lose weight, but why does it help with pain relief? While there are many reasons for the pain relief offered, a few of the most important include:
- Exercise as a whole reduces pain. Studies show exercise increases the natural production of serotonin and opioids in the body while lowering serotonin transporter expression. What does this mean? Exercise promotes natural pain relief.
- Muscle tension is often a factor contributing to your chronic pain. Yoga forces more oxygen into your muscle and brain tissue, improving both well-being and energy levels.
- Breath awareness helps release tension in the body to promote looser muscles, less tension, and lower pain levels.
- Yoga improves range of motion and gets the joints moving. Anyone who has arthritis or similar conditions where the range of motion is lost can use yoga to alleviate pain – sometimes, completely.
- Regular yoga sessions reduce and improve stress management, allowing for a positive reduction in chronic pain.
Yoga may help improve mental and physical health, according to recent research. In terms of rheumatoid arthritis, yoga helps change a person’s perception of pain and the person’s ability to deal with pain.
Additionally, yoga reduces inflammation and lowers cortisol levels in the body.
Yoga is so accessible that people of all ages can find multiple yoga teachers showing them how to perform safe yoga movements right on YouTube.
5 Easy Yoga Poses to Help with Chronic Pain
1. Modified Downward Facing Dog
If your chronic pain keeps you from doing a full downward-facing dog, this modified version can help you enjoy the benefits without stressing your body.
- Start with your hands on a table or chair that’s waist-high or lower.
- Take a step back so that your arms are fully extended and bend at the hips. Hips should be over your ankles.
- If it’s comfortable for you, try pressing your hands down onto the chair or table to engage and stretch your muscles.
- You should feel a stretch and slight discomfort, but never pain.
Hold this pose and breathe for however long you feel comfortable.
This pose is a gentle one, and it’s great for your overall health and wellbeing. Legs-up-the-wall is an active inverted pose. What this means is that your legs are above the rest of your body, which allows gravity to work its magic on your lower body.
The pose is simple:
- Lie down flat with your bottom against the wall.
- Raise your feet to create an “L” shape.
- Rest in this position for however long you can.
This pose can help alleviate stress and improve circulation, among many other benefits. Better blood flow can help with chronic pain. If you need to, feel free to place a cushion under your bottom to improve comfort.
3. Butterfly Pose
The butterfly pose is an excellent stretch for your hips, glutes, and thighs. With this pose, be gentle with yourself and only go as far as is comfortable for you.
- Start by sitting on a level surface.
- Bring the soles of your feet together.
- You can stay in this position if you feel a good stretch.
- If you want to take it a bit further, use your hands to press your knees down toward the floor gently.
- To get into the full pose, grasp the tops of your feet and bend forward with a flat back.
Don’t worry if you can’t go all the way down. Only go as far as is comfortable for you.
4. Supine Twist
Supine twist poses are a wonderful way to stretch the back and neck.
- Start by lying down flat on your back.
- Bring your knees to your chest.
- Guide one leg (with the knee bent) to the opposite side.
- Extend the arm out and look towards your extended arm to stretch your neck.
- Repeat on the other side.
When doing supine twists, you should also feel a good stretch and lengthening in your obliques and possibly the outer thigh. It’s a relaxing pose that can help get rid of some tension that may be contributing to your pain.
5. Warrior II with a Chair
Warrior II is a challenging pose that helps build strength and flexibility in the lower body. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, you can modify this pose by using a chair for support. Using a chair will allow you to build strength and safely stretch your muscles.
- Start by sitting down on the chair.
- Bring one leg to one side, and press your foot into the ground.
- Extend the other foot out to the side while pressing down into the ground.
- Extend your arms to be in line with your legs.
Yoga can help with chronic pain in many ways. Whether it’s through poses, meditation, or breathing exercises, this simple practice may reduce pain or make it easier to deal with the stress of chronic pain.
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