In 2015, the United Nations established June 21st, as International Day of Yoga, to recognize the many emotional, mental, spiritual and physical benefits of this revered, ancient Indian practice. Yoga poses, known as asanas in Sanskrit, were originally devised by dedicated yogis to help them withstand the physical rigors of long hours spent in static meditative postures. Here in the US, yoga has become popular for its gentle stretching and strengthening effects as well as its powerful pain-reduction and stress-management benefits.
The concept of pain-reduction within the practice of yoga is an incredible benefit that can benefit almost anyone. By knowing them, you can help yourself, or a loved one relieve pain. Here are just a few of the therapeutic benefits of yoga.
- 1 The Ways Yoga Encourages Pain Relief
- 2 Maximize Your Yoga Practice
The Ways Yoga Encourages Pain Relief
1. Improves Mental and Emotional Outlook and Productivity
Chronic pain causes a range of emotional, physical, and social repercussions that can have a dramatic impact on your ability to function well in your personal life and at work. For starters, it can trigger depression, which changes your brain’s levels of mood-modifying neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Additionally, these same neurotransmitters have direct effects on how your brain registers and responds to pain.
A depressed state can lead to a heightened pain response which, over time, develops into a self-perpetuating cycle of more pain and more depression.
However, a yogic reset to the right neurotransmitters often results in a lift in mood and improved mind-body connection. This creates a happier, more content mind that is better able to cope with and even overcome existing limitations. As a demonstration of this effect, yoga has been shown to dramatically improve job performance in chronic pain patients even where the level of pain reduction is less by comparison to changes in other metrics, such as the alleviation of anxiety and insomnia.
2. Provides Relief From Arthritis Pain
A big part of what makes yoga effective for relieving arthritis pain is its ability to break the cycle of depression resulting from chronic pain. A gentle and safe yoga practice may also be more enjoyable than standard exercise, so arthritis sufferers are more likely to practice yoga regularly. In a 3-month study of rheumatoid arthritis patients, a group that performed a relaxation-based yoga program consisting of a one-hour group session of yoga postures once per week along with a 20-minute guided meditation at home 3 days per week participants reported slight pain reduction and significant reductions in depression and anxiety.
3. Improves Athletic Performance
Many top-level athletes swear by yoga’s ability to give them a competitive edge. Moving through a series of yoga poses is a dynamic process that improves strength and balance. Maintaining isometric positions stretches and tones opposing muscles at the same time. And, as an aerobic exercise, yoga increases oxygen consumption and promotes conversion of fast twitch (anaerobic) muscle fibers into slow twitch (aerobic) fibers, which contributes to improved endurance. As a result, balance, strength, and flexibility measurements have been documented to improve as much (or more) in participants of yoga versus those who practice conventional exercises.
Additionally, yoga has been found to be particularly beneficial for improving strength and endurance of the abdominal and upper body muscles in women. Sedentary older adults who take up yoga may derive benefits similar to standard western-style stretching and strengthening exercises (formerly known as calisthenics to those of us of a certain age). Additionally, yoga offers an advantage over standard exercise regimens for people with greater levels of impairment, who are able to adapt it to fit their capabilities.
4. Yogic Breathing Meditation — Pranayama
The amount of pain you feel is a function of how many pain messages actually get to your brain and how many of those messages your brain pays attention to.
Through pranayama exercises, which promote your control of your breathing rate and rhythm, you can essentially cut off a lot of those pain messages before they reach your brain.
In a clinical study, when fibromyalgia patients practiced pranayama they reported less pain intensity — and the effects were greater for higher pain levels. Similarly, multiple sclerosis patients have achieved significant pain relief through practicing a form of yoga that emphasizes pranayama techniques.
Maximize Your Yoga Practice
Chiropractic Care & Yoga
Yoga might have been hailed the miracle for our body’s ailments, but so has chiropractic care. Both help align the spine, strengthen the body, including the central nervous system; and improve your balance, flexibility, and mobility. So combining them can only enhance the practice. In fact, when I took my 100 hour Iyengar yoga teacher training, my instructor advised us to visit a chiropractor in order to get aligned before we began the alignment-focused intensive program. So if you are new to yoga or suffer from chronic pain as a result of a spinal conditions like scoliosis or osteoarthritis, you’ll get the most of your treatment with this combination.
Natural pharmaceuticals Can Enhance the Effects of Doing Yoga
CBDMEDIC™ is the perfect partner to support and enhance your yoga practice as well. You can use a cooling cream, ointment, or pain stick to interrupt the pain signals in your brain so you can stretch deeper and hold poses longer. Moreover, the naturally-derived ingredients are in alignment with the yogic philosophy of caring for the body, mind, and soul.
By practicing yoga and augmenting it with natural, soothing medications, you can keep focus more on what you love and less on your pain.