As the number of individuals who are dealing with chronic pain progressively increases, in tandem with the continuing opioid crisis, both doctors, as well as patients, are becoming increasingly more curious about how to handle chronic pain conditions using non-pharmacological treatments. The tools of yoga, mindfulness as well as meditation offer the potential to help people effectively cope with these conditions in addition to improving quality of life.
There are few things more frustrating to someone with chronic pain than hearing someone say, “Your pain is all in your mind.” But if you’re one of the numerous individuals who are living with chronic pain, these words may actually be the key to relieving your suffering. Chronic pain is indeed in the mind however this does not mean exactly what you think it means. The experience of pain is indeed real. Pain has a biological foundation. It’s just that the cause of pain isn’t limited to where one feels it or thinks that it is coming from.
Yoga Is A Mind-Body Exercise
Yoga is a mind-body exercise practice which combines breath control, meditation as well as movements in order to stretch and strengthen muscles. What sets yoga apart from nearly all other exercise programmes is that it places as great an emphasis on mental fitness as it does on physical fitness.
People have been practising yoga for thousands of years. Given its history, several types of yoga have developed. The most popular form which is practised in South Africa is hatha yoga — of which there are numerous variations.
Yoga As A Chronic-Pain Reliever
An ever-increasing area of research is showing that yoga can, in fact, be useful for people who are suffering from chronic low-back pain. In particular, studies have shown that yoga can alleviate pain intensity as well as improve overall function and mobility.
One study made the finding that yoga, even more than exercise or education, led to the improvement in terms of significant outcomes, among them the functional disability. This study not only looked at results post-treatment but it also involved a 14-week follow-up. At the 14-week mark, the yoga group was still performing better than the education group and just as well as the exercise group in terms of improving mobility.
Another intervention found that yoga was equal to physical therapy and to education in decreasing pain as well as improving functional disability. This study also made the finding that those who took part in the yoga or physical therapy group reported using less medication post-intervention. This is an extremely positive finding as it demonstrates that yoga has the potential to be just as effective as more traditional interventions.
Owing to the intricacy of many chronic pain conditions, individuals who would attempt yoga or meditation in order to assist with coping with their chronic pain could consider finding a class which would be receptive to their condition or work with a yoga therapist, physician or mental-health professional who is skilled in yoga. This would allow enhanced benefit of the practice while minimising some of the risks which could come with just visiting your local yoga or meditation class.
Yoga is an incredibly restorative practice. To discover more about the benefits of this ancient practice, we suggest that you do our Yoga Instructor Course. For more information, please follow this link.