Yoga is a natural way to relieve pain. If you are suffering from aches and pains, fibromyalgia, chronic pelvic pain, back pain, osteoarthritis or even carpal tunnel, using yoga for pain relief is a healthy alternative to pain medications, which can have some very serious side effects, including addiction.
A review of over 20 years of studies at Duke University found that yoga is an effective treatment for chronic pain. Patients who did yoga experienced significant reductions in their joint pain, muscle stiffness, and overall discomfort. Other benefits of yoga or pain relief brought the participants improved flexibility, range of motion and strength. Yoga helps to increase mobility and strength without putting excess wear and tear on joints.
The Best Yoga for Pain Relief Moves for Common Ailments
The following moves can help with specific pains. Before you start using yoga for pain relief, check with your doctor to make sure the moves are right for you, and be sure to work with a knowledgeable yoga instructor to prevent injury. Some moves may require straps or props for support. There many other yoga moves that can help with pain relief besides the ones presented here. Talk to your yoga instructor about the best moves for your specific types of pain.
If you suffer from chronic pelvic pain, there are a number of yoga positions that can work the pelvic floor muscles, increase blood flow, improve muscle function, and relieve tension in the area. Downward Dog, Standing Pelvic Tilts, and any moves that have you lying on the floor with your knees pulled in to your chest are all beneficial. A restorative yoga move to look into is the Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose, which involves lying on the floor with one leg extended up to the ceiling and using a strap.
Knee pain sufferers can try the Supported Warrior move. While standing tall, place hands against a wall at shoulder height. Step the right foot forward so toes touch the wall and bend elbows as if you’re trying to push the wall away. Place the left foot about one to three feet behind you, slightly bending the left knee toward floor. Hold the position for 10 to 15 breaths. Slowly straighten the left leg while bending the right knee, ensuring knee does not extend past ankle. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths before stepping left foot forward to meet right and switching leg positions.
If you have back pain, try the Cobra. Lie face-down with your forehead on floor. Place hands on either side at the middle of your ribcage. Draw your legs together, pressing tops of feet into floor. Press evenly through your hands as you draw your elbows close to ribcage. Using your back (not arms), lift the head and chest, sliding shoulder blades down back. Take care not to keep tension in the buttocks. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths before gently releasing to floor, turning head to one side.
A Butterfly Pose can help relieve certain kinds of hip pain. While sitting on the floor, bring soles of feet together, knees wide so legs form a diamond. Keep entire back straight and shoulders relaxed as you breathe and drop knees out, slowly and gently. If you need gentler relief, place blocks or pillows beneath knees for support.
Elbow and Shoulder Pain
Try a Wall Plank. Stand facing a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Place palms against wall, arms extended, and slowly lean forward, letting your body rest on hands. Keep your arms in and body in a straight line as you slowly bend the elbows, inching closer. When your nose touches wall (or if you feel discomfort), slowly push back to standing.
A variety of restorative yoga moves can help with chronic pain. Restorative yoga is nurturing and relaxing, and it involves some conscious breathing exercises. When you do restorative poses you hold them for longer periods of time—10 minutes or longer. The stillness of your body helps you to release the deepest layers of tension. This kind of yoga relaxes the body but engages and focuses the mind. You often use support pillows and blankets in restorative yoga. Consult an experienced yoga instructor for help in identifying the best restorative yoga moves for you.