Yoga for Chronic Pain

10 Benefits of Yoga for Chronic Pain

“Have you tried yoga?”

I know what you’re thinking. 

You read that title and you are already thinking of clicking away from this piece. 

You have probably been told to “try yoga” for your chronic pain and chronic illness symptoms about a thousand times before. You’re sick of hearing it, mostly because the people that tell you to try it think it will completely cure whatever ails you. 

They’re dismissing the real, ongoing suffering you deal with. 

That’s not what I’m about. 

As a chronically ill person myself, I understand that yoga – and other exercises, lifestyle changes, etc. – can never truly eliminate pain and other symptoms. But I also know that if there is a free, easy to implement way to alleviate at least some of my pain, I am going to try it. 

I have personally been incorporating gentle stretching into my weekly routines for a while now. 

When I got my multiple sclerosis diagnosis, I became very fearful of losing strength in my muscles. While that is still a concern, I feel less worried now that I am actively building strength in those muscles over time with easy, low-impact workouts. 

Yoga for Chronic Pain - The Whole Spoon Drawer Chronic Illness & Disability Blog

If you are interested in yoga for chronic pain, there are plenty of instructors on YouTube who offer tutorials that you can do from home. Your local hospital or clinic may offer classes, and you can also check with a local yoga instructor. 

Just be aware that there may be poses and flows that you are unable to do, at least at first. 

That is okay! Some movement is better than none, as long as your body is safely capable of doing so.

As always, I am not a doctor or a medical expert. I am simply providing information based on my own experience and research I have done. 

If you are interested in implementing any new activity into your daily life, please consult your medical provider before beginning any exercise routine!

Yoga for chronic pain - The Whole Spoon Drawer Chronic Illness and Disability Blog

Wondering what the potential benefits are of yoga for chronic pain? Check out this list of reasons to consider giving it a try: 

  • Yoga has been shown to improve the flow of oxygen through your body and to your brain. This can improve your energy levels and increase your sense of wellbeing. Remember to breathe properly throughout your workout to achieve this benefit. 
  • Those who practice yoga may have a higher pain tolerance. While the research on this is still out, scientists believe it may have something to do with the way yoga teaches students of the practice to reframe their thoughts and focus. This may improve pain tolerance. 
  • Chronic pain creates stress. Yoga has been shown to reduce the stress hormone in the body and the perception of stress in the mind. This can make stress management easier for those who practice. 
  • If you suffer from certain types of arthritis, yoga may be a good option for strengthening the muscles that support your joints. This can make using those joints easier and less painful. 
  • Yoga can improve your range of motion. Stiffness in the muscles and joints of chronic pain sufferers is common. Gentle exercise like that offered by regular yoga practice can release that stiffness and make movement smoother and easier. 
Yoga for Chronic Pain - The Whole Spoon Drawer Chronic Illness & Disability Blog
  • Yoga has been shown to improve heart health. The increased blood flow and better breathing brought on by practicing yoga is great for the heart. Given that vigorous exercise is often out of the question for disabled and chronically ill people, yoga is a good alternative. 
  • Yoga can be very relaxing. The slow and gentle stretching that the exercise incorporates can help you release tension in the muscles and relax the body, making sleep easier to find – and better when you find it. 
  • In studies, yoga has been shown to reduce inflammation. How? Because the practice reduces the stress hormone and improves breathing and blood flow. All of this can lead to less inflammation and less pain. 
  • Unlike many exercises, yoga is fairly accessible. As with most things, not every exercise is accessible to every patient. However, yoga can be practiced completely free, in the comfort of your own home. It also does not require additional equipment, training, or a pricey subscription to do. That makes it something that more people can do – and benefit from – than many other methods of exercise. 
  • When you practice yoga, you prioritize self-care. By choosing to incorporate yoga into your daily or weekly routine, you put yourself and your care at the top of your priority list. That can cause a positive chain reaction that makes you want to prioritize other self-care activities. Before long, you will be doing more for yourself – and enjoying the way all that self-care makes you feel. 

What about you? Have you ever tried yoga? If so, what were your results? I would love to know what conditions you feel that it helps with, or if you feel like it isn’t for you.

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