Yoga and its Effect on Chronic Pain and Brain FunctionPut yourhands together, in prayer, at your heart.
Close your eyes. Breathe in. Breatheout. This is yoga. Yoga is defined as a way of life, an integrated system of education for thebody, mind, and inner spirit. This art of right living was perfected andpracticed in India thousands of years ago, but since Yoga deals with universaltruth, its teachings are valid today as they were in ancient times. Yoga is apractical 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 becomea 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 atthe park, hot yoga, restorative yoga, and even yoga with baby goats. Peopleeverywhere are getting in on this new wave of a healthier lifestyle.
However,most people don’t know what benefits their body is receiving, whenparticipating in this activity. Yoga does more than cut down the extra fat on thestomach area. Yoga helps with relaxation, weight reduction, balance andself-control. It even has some effectson 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 bookYoga Mind and Body, she shows the yoga stances and how to do them correctly.She also highlights how these positions effect you mentally, physically, andemotionally. Like the Simple Standing Forward Bend position, all you do itstand straight and bend at the waist. This easy position increases blood supplyto the brain, it invigorates the entire nervous system, and mobilizes joints.
Mentally, this position, with expel tamas, which is inertia or laziness, and italso stimulates intellectual capacities. (pg. 98) Another pose that can be doneand helps the body, is the peacock. With this pose, you are balancing all yourbody weight on your hands, as you are parallel to the ground. This eases manymental disorders, removes lethargy, and general feelings of weakness andhelplessness. This pose also positions the elbows so that they massage andrevitalize the internal organs, curing many digestive diseases. (pg.
90)Lastly, an easy pose she mentions is the Spinal twist. While sitting on thefloor, with your legs out, twist your back. This position removes adhesions inthe joints caused by Rheumatism. It also helps relieve muscular problems inback and belly. (pg. 84) In DoctorKelly McGonigal’s book, Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm yourMind and Heal your Chronic Pain, she explains that most chronic pain ismentally. If the mind is calm the chronic pain will calm. The steps to startrelieving 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 brainis next. Finally, what is the pain response: sensation, thoughts, emotions,stress, coping? From there, learning how yoga can help with those issues is thefinal step. (pg. 10) She also expresses how different poses deal with differentissues. For examples, the Neck Stretch, releases tension in the neck andshoulders. The Upper Back Stretch releases the tension in the upper back andshoulders. She states that yoga taps into the body’s natural healing vitality.
Liz Owen is a certified Iyengar yoga instructorand has taught yoga for over 17 years, according to her website. She teachesa wide range of yoga practices that can help with chronic pain. She speaks on thefact that most believe that their body is several different parts. However, yoga considers the body to be an organic, connected entitywhose parts are constantly in moving relationship to each other. (owen) She teaches a sequence of yoga poses, which aredesigned to both stretch and strengthen your body. They offer mental comfort toyour painful areas and listen closely to them.
Although yoga can be cute and fun, it has manyhealth benefits, that some may not know about. I found 5 mains ideas on theeffects that yoga has on chronic pain and brain function. As mentioned, different poses can perform different jobs bothmentally and physically, chronic pain has a lot of mind control, which yoga canhelp ease those issues, These are some of the many reasons whypeople should be interested in yoga. Sakyong Mipham once said, “The bodybenefits from the movement, and the mind benefits from the still.” Thatexplains yoga in a nutshell.
While thisactivity is easy to do at home, you can also find a group that practices yogain town. AsMcGonigal mentions, you can go at your own pace and choose the movements thatare best for you. Until we meet again on the four corners of our mat, Namaste.