Yoga – the practice of body, breath, and mindfulness exercises to enhance wellbeing – is one of the most popular ways to self-remedy both physical and mental issues people face every day. Whether you’re trying to ease the tension of the workday or engage in a bit of self-care after an emotional event, yoga can help you relax physically and mentally and better engage with the world around you.
However, is there a science to the ways yoga can mitigate pain? In this article, we’ll look at the various benefits of yoga and how you can safely practice yoga to improve chronic pain symptoms.
The Benefits of Yoga
Many people cite enhanced relaxation of the body and mind as the primary benefit of regular yoga practice. Along with the nice stretch your muscles can experience, yoga teaches us to breathe deeply, let our minds relax, and focus on the present moment. While these benefits may not seem like a concrete treatment for chronic pain, research shows that it can alleviate some of the tension built up after a year of stress.
The injury itself doesn’t solely cause chronic pain. It heightens the awareness of the nervous system and can cause emotional traumas that further intensify the injury’s physical symptoms. In this way, the mind works against healing from chronic pain.
When someone practices yoga with focus, they can help retrain the mind to engage in a state of relaxation. Rather than hyper-focusing on pain, your body is focused on rejuvenation. This can not only help heal the emotional trauma caused by an injury or chronic pain condition but can lessen one’s sensitivity to pain both in the short- and long term.
How To Practice Yoga Safely
If you are struggling with chronic pain, it is essential to practice safely, not further exacerbate your injury. It is best to begin yoga practice with a licensed instructor who can discuss your current medical issues and guide you in a safe method for your body. However, if you want to get started at home, these tips can ensure you are safe throughout the session:
- Don’t push yourself too far. If something starts to hurt in a particular pose, back off or try an alternative within your comfortable range of motion.
- Begin with gentle or beginner yoga practices. Advanced yoga sessions may involve intense stretches, strength-building poses, or other activities that may put you at risk if you are not experienced. Start with simple exercises and build yourself up with the help of an instructor.
- Choose all seated or standing exercises if you aren’t comfortable in certain positions. For example, yoga exercises like the downward-facing dog or plank pose may be uncomfortable if you struggle with wrist pain. If you are struggling to get into these postures comfortably, skip them altogether or find a session catered to your specific needs.
Yoga is one of the most excellent everyday practices you can use to help alleviate chronic pain. However, it is often not enough to reduce symptoms entirely. If you are looking for long-lasting therapeutic options for regular pain treatment, contact your local PPOA clinic to learn about medical interventions that will work for you.