Yoga therapy is a globally popular, widely practised therapeutic science. This is a mind-body practise that benefits and enhances physical and mental health. The main provision of Yoga therapy helps to align the physical aspects of our body to our subconscious mind resulting in complete well-being.‘yogas to Chitta vritti nirodhah’ is the definition of Yoga by Sage Patanjali, which means Yoga is a discipline that ends suffering by calming down the patterns of unconsciousness. Yoga works wonders in the preventive, curative, and rehabilitative phases of any disease, especially in pain management. Pain present at the joints, musculoskeletal and even psychosomatic in nature is managed effectively by practising yoga. Conditions such as Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Fatigue, where chronic pain is seen prominently, practising simple yoga asanas and postures, regularly will improve the Pain scale. Chronic pain is an uncomfortable experience, yet subjective in terms of severity. Health professionals all over the world have now come to the conclusion that chronic pain is not only limited to the physical body but also affects mental health and daily activities. Understanding the severity, the acuteness of the pain will help in identifying the exact type of Yoga practices for the individual.
Chronic pain and its variations:
Chronic pain is not just a physical symptom. It affects the quality of life of an individual with varied intensity. It impacts a person’s physical, emotional, and social life drastically. If the pain is left untreated, the individual feels a sense of unhappiness, and has negative thoughts, eventually creating room for psychosomatic pain triggers.
How does Yoga therapy work to reduce pain?
Our nervous system is a complex, yet wonderful system which controls the pain centre of the brain. Over the counter painkillers, drugs work on this area mainly, which eventually reduces the sensation of pain for the time being. Yoga on the other hand, when practised regularly, strengthens the nervous system which makes our body more tolerant to pain, thereby reducing the pain sensation. Yogic Asanas which promote relaxation and restorative actions of the muscles and nerves help to reduce the stress response of the cells. They stabilize the nervous system. This redirected energy response is utilized in better immune function, control of inflammation, and promotion of the body’s growth and strength. Merely performing Yoga poses will not help unless accompanied by focused breathing. Each pose works on aligning the respiration with the body’s other systems for effective functioning. Yoga can be practised by all ages, genders and is the safest form of exercise which has optimum health benefits. Performing yoga therapy regularly is a sure way to meet your health goals and maintain good health in the long run.
Yoga Asanas for pain management:
There are different types of Asanas focusing on the area of management, such as building physical strength, balancing, and relaxing and meditative. There are various research and developments in the field of Yoga. An upcoming branch of Medical Yoga (Therapeutic) is completely focused on respective systems of our body, such as Yoga therapy for Neuro-endocrine health. All Asanas should always be performed and learnt under expert guidance and practised daily as per individual health issues and goals. One yoga-asana is not subjected to single criteria, the beauty of Yoga is to have one asana performed for various health conditions. Here are a few yogic practices that are commonly used for pain management:
Best performed Yoga Asanas in specific conditions:
- Adho-Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing Dog): This pose helps to stretch and strengthen the back muscles and improves flexibility of the spine.
- Marjaryasana (Cat Pose): Cat pose/Cow pose helps to relieve tension from the back and improves posture.
Neck and shoulder pain
- Utthitha Tikonasana (extended triangle pose): It strengthens the back, neck, and abdominal muscles. Opens the chest and shoulders.
- Parvatasana (Mountain Pose): It strengthens the legs, back and provides good alignment. You can also do slow neck rotations as a variation in this pose.
- Setubandhasana (Bridge pose): It is a therapeutic pose for firbromyalgia. It relieves tension as well as improves digestion.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose): It soothes sciatic pain. It is a multipurpose asana that helps to stretch and strengthen the spine, lungs, chest, abdomen, and buttocks. Helps to resolve fatigue and tension.
- Shishuasana (Child’s Pose): It is highly recommended for migraine, dizziness, and fatigue. It resolves tension headaches effectively. It releases stress from the back and neck which helps to reduce frequent migraine attacks.
- Hastapadasana (Standing forward bending): It is useful to normalize the circulation in the body which is essential for migraine. It stimulates and strengthens the nervous system.
- Virbhadhrasana (Warrior pose): It strengthens the entire body by improving the posture, balance, and stability. It works effectively on hips and knees which are primarily affected in Arthritis. It helps to improve better circulation.
- Tadasana (Tree pose): It improves the back, legs, and releases tension from the knee and other joints.
- Shavasana (Corpse pose): This pose relaxes and calms the central nervous system. Helps to reduce the blood pressure. It is an essential pose which helps to alleviate the pain associated with neurological conditions. It is highly recommended to end the yogic practice with this pose, holding it for long.
- Pranayama (Deep breathing): Total concentration deep breathing is Pranayama, which is essential to enhance cognitive performance. It improves the quality of sleep and helps to relax the whole body. It is also highly beneficial to reduce stress and increase mindfulness. Along with nervous system it synchronizes the respiratory functions effectively.
- Jathara parivrittasa (revolved pelvic pose): Jathara refers to the abdomen. This pose is useful to maintain the digestion, improve Agni and alleviate stomach discomfort . It is helpful in menstrual cramps and endometrial pain in women. It facilitates movement in the abdominal cavity for better absorption and assimilation.
- Shavasana (variation-bent legs): Shavasana variation with legs bent inside and holding it for a while helps to aid the passage of obstructed abdominal gas. It is helpful in flatulence, constipation, and abdominal pain. It is also practiced for alleviating pain associated with pre-menstrual symptoms in women.
P.S. This is a generalized list of suitable Yoga Asanas w.r.t. health conditions. Please consult your doctor and Yoga expert before starting any of these exercises.