Yoga and its Effect on Chronic Pain and Brain Function
hands together, in prayer, at your heart. Close your eyes. Breathe in. Breathe
out. This is yoga. Yoga is defined as a way of life, an integrated system of education for the
body, mind, and inner spirit. This art of right living was perfected and
practiced in India thousands of years ago, but since Yoga deals with universal
truth, its teachings are valid today as they were in ancient times. Yoga is a
practical aid, not a religion, and its technique may be practiced by Buddhists,
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and atheist alike. Yoga is union with all (Mcgonigal,1996) It has become
a hot, new trend. As a beginner, yoga is something that can be done at home.
However, there are many other forms of yoga. From yoga by the beach, yoga at
the park, hot yoga, restorative yoga, and even yoga with baby goats. People
everywhere are getting in on this new wave of a healthier lifestyle. However,
most people don’t know what benefits their body is receiving, when
participating in this activity. Yoga does more than cut down the extra fat on the
stomach area. Yoga helps with relaxation, weight reduction, balance and
self-control. It even has some effects
on chronic pain and brain function, as well as a great deal of other things.
Exactly what effects does yoga have on chronic pain and brain function?
In the book
Yoga Mind and Body, she shows the yoga stances and how to do them correctly.
She also highlights how these positions effect you mentally, physically, and
emotionally. Like the Simple Standing Forward Bend position, all you do it
stand straight and bend at the waist. This easy position increases blood supply
to the brain, it invigorates the entire nervous system, and mobilizes joints.
Mentally, this position, with expel tamas, which is inertia or laziness, and it
also stimulates intellectual capacities. (pg. 98) Another pose that can be done
and helps the body, is the peacock. With this pose, you are balancing all your
body weight on your hands, as you are parallel to the ground. This eases many
mental disorders, removes lethargy, and general feelings of weakness and
helplessness. This pose also positions the elbows so that they massage and
revitalize the internal organs, curing many digestive diseases. (pg. 90)
Lastly, an easy pose she mentions is the Spinal twist. While sitting on the
floor, with your legs out, twist your back. This position removes adhesions in
the joints caused by Rheumatism. It also helps relieve muscular problems in
back and belly. (pg. 84)
Kelly McGonigal’s book, Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm your
Mind and Heal your Chronic Pain, she explains that most chronic pain is
mentally. If the mind is calm the chronic pain will calm. The steps to start
relieving the chronic pain is finding the trigger of the injury or illness.
Once that is determined, realizing a threat signal is being sent to the brain
is next. Finally, what is the pain response: sensation, thoughts, emotions,
stress, coping? From there, learning how yoga can help with those issues is the
final step. (pg. 10) She also expresses how different poses deal with different
issues. For examples, the Neck Stretch, releases tension in the neck and
shoulders. The Upper Back Stretch releases the tension in the upper back and
shoulders. She states that yoga taps into the body’s natural healing vitality.
Liz Owen is a certified Iyengar yoga instructor
and has taught yoga for over 17 years, according to her website. She teaches
a wide range of yoga practices that can help with chronic pain. She speaks on the
fact that most believe that their body is several different parts. However, yoga considers the body to be an organic, connected entity
whose parts are constantly in moving relationship to each other. (owen) She teaches a sequence of yoga poses, which are
designed to both stretch and strengthen your body. They offer mental comfort to
your painful areas and listen closely to them.
Although yoga can be cute and fun, it has many
health benefits, that some may not know about. I found 5 mains ideas on the
effects that yoga has on chronic pain and brain function. As mentioned, different poses can perform different jobs both
mentally and physically, chronic pain has a lot of mind control, which yoga can
help ease those issues, These are some of the many reasons why
people should be interested in yoga. Sakyong Mipham once said, “The body
benefits from the movement, and the mind benefits from the still.” That
explains yoga in a nutshell. While this
activity is easy to do at home, you can also find a group that practices yoga
in town. As
McGonigal mentions, you can go at your own pace and choose the movements that
are best for you. Until we meet again on the four corners of our mat, Namaste.