How can yoga help with pain?
Updated: Feb 2
Almost half of the UK population (an estimated 28 million people) suffer from chronic pain.
Chronic pain is multi-dimensional as the pain negatively impacts on muscles, patterns of breathing, energy levels and mindset, all of which exacerbate the distress and affect the quality of life of the individual and family.
Yoga is a fascinating and increasingly popular subject for researchers. Whether it's studies around physical and mental ailments in children and youths, athletes, cancer patients or elderly, an ever increasing body of research shows that there is good news for people in pain.
Yoga eventually influences all aspects of the yoga practitioner: vital, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Its approaches to relax, energise, remodel and strengthen body and psyche initiate a “relaxation response” in the neuro endocrinal system.
This consists of decreased metabolism, quieter breathing, stable blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, lower heart rate and slow brain wave pattern.
With consistent practice, the sense of relaxation and sleep gets deeper and sustained; fatigue diminishes. Several subtle corrections happen when students meditate - and this is where the impact on chronic pain happens: Yoga and meditation change the context of disease, pain and the meaning of life and help individuals deal with the emotional aspects of chronic pain, reduce anxiety and depression effectively and improve the quality of life perceived.
Yoga is life transforming, whether you are in physical pain, or not. And its particular magic lies in successfully relieving those of us who do suffer from chronic pain, or on and off pain.
At Unwind, we teach you to breathe and feel inside. It is only natural that as you turn your attention inwards to your felt experience of your breath and body, you’ll also start to develop more emotional intelligence, resilience and self-knowing alongside of relieving pain through movement, increased strength and flexibility. Find out about our yoga and meditation classes.
If you suspect that your physical pain is deeply intertwined with emotional pain or trauma, we highly recommend working with a qualified therapist alongside your yoga and meditation practice.
Fayaz A, Croft P, Langford RM, et al Prevalence of chronic pain in the UK: a systematic review and meta-analysis of population studies BMJ Open 2016;6:e010364. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010364
Vallath N. (2010). Perspectives on yoga inputs in the management of chronic pain.Indian journal of palliative care,16(1), 1–7. doi: 10.4103/0973-1075.63127
(Unwind Yoga Studio is located in Cookham, Maidenhead, in Berkshire)