People understand that yoga can relieve stress but also positively affects chronic pain. Yoga can partially relieve pain because it reduces the causes of pain like inflammation and a lack of flexibility.
Yoga also decreases pan because it helps people feel it less. It does this by reducing pain perception. This doesn’t mean the pain goes away. Instead, it means people react differently toward pain, lessening it and how pain affects daily life.
Pain carries a lot of negative emotions, and yoga helps disassociate the negative emotions toward pain and replace them with positivity. That decreases pain perception, or how much people recognize and feel pain.
While pain doesn’t go away, this helps people with chronic, daily pain manage it better and have a better quality of life.
A Study Proves It
Combat veterans with traumatic brain injuries participated in a study that used mindfulness meditation to reduce pain. The mindfulness meditation practice is a form of yoga called Yoga Nidra. The results were significant.
According to the American University College of Arts and Scientists, which performed the study, the veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program tested was iRest, used in veterans hospitals across the country. This study was at the Veterans at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center in Washington, D.C.
Those in the iRest group had a 23 to 42 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 34 to 41 percent lower pain interference compared to the control group not receiving the iRest treatment.
Inflammation is associated with chronic health issues like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and autoimmune disorders. This can cause much pain. However, research into how yoga affects inflammations shows that it can reduce them.
The link seems to be reducing how the body handles stress. Stress is believed to be a contributing factor to inflammation. Reducing stress through yoga has a domino effect that reduces pain caused by inflammation.
Improving Range of Motion
Yoga helps improve function, and that can help reduce pain in areas where a range of motion has been limited. this has been especially helpful to those with low back pain. For example, one study indicates that those who did yoga for six weeks improved flexibility and range of motion. They also had less pain.
An interesting note of that study is the type of yoga didn’t seem to matter as a variety of styles led to improvement.
Relieving Specific Pain
Many people are surprised there are specific poses to address pain in areas like knees, shoulder, back, and hips. These gentle poses are slightly modified to address these problems by stretching or massaging affected areas.
However, those with chronic problems should seek a teacher to help with these poses to avoid further injury. Look for certified teachers who have experience in dealing with pain management.
Many people are nervous about starting yoga. Most aren’t confident about learning poses or their coordination. Those nervous can first test the waters at home with free beginner instructional videos online.
Use props to help you, especially just starting with a new pose. Things like pillows, blankets, yoga blocks, bolsters, and straps help those with mobility issues.
Yoga can help many people reduce pain and live better life. However, you should research how to best put yoga into your life to avoid further injury and enjoy it more. Talking to others who use it for pain relief may be a good start.