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Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness for Chronic Pain

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

By Beth Shum (HPCP, CSP)

In this blog post, we will be discussing the benefits and techniques of yoga therapy and mindfulness for managing chronic pain. Yoga therapy is a holistic approach to health that can be used as a tool to bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit. It can be particularly beneficial for those suffering from chronic pain.

Why Yoga Therapy for Chronic Pain?

Research has shown that yoga therapy can lead to a reduction in pain intensity and improve the quality of life. It can also help reduce fatigue, support acceptance and coping, bring about cognitive changes resulting from mindful practice, and be used as a pacing tool.


An aerialist flying on an aerial hoop in a split.
Mindfulness Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). It's a philosophy that revolves around seven principles: non-judgement, patience, a beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go.


A few ideas to start your yoga therapy for pain

#1 - You are not your pain

It's important to remember that you are not defined by your pain. By bringing a sense of safety and identifying the pain experience rather than defining yourself by it, you can begin to separate your identity from your pain.

#2 - Pranayama (Breathing)

Let's get started with pranayama or controlled breathing. "Prana" means breathing, and "Ayama" means control. The objectives of pranayama are to gain control over the mind through breathing activities and to gradually slow down the breathing cycles. Techniques like yogic breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, Golden Thread Breath, Cleaning the Mirror, and Nadi Shodhana pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing) can be very beneficial.

#3 - Building Awareness

As you practise pranayama, it's important to build awareness. Be aware of the process of inhalation and exhalation. Become aware of physical sensations without too much effort. Approach the practice with gentleness and forgiveness, contentment in the present, and remain empathetic and non-judgemental.

#4 - Movement and Desensitisation

Along with pranayama, incorporating movement and desensitisation techniques into your practice can help manage chronic pain. These techniques can help retrain your body and mind to perceive pain differently, reducing its intensity and impact.

Adapting Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness to Clinical Practice So, how can we adapt these tools and techniques to our clinical practice?


Each individual is unique, and so should their yoga therapy and mindfulness practices. Treatment plans should be personalised, taking into account the individual's physical capabilities, pain levels, and personal goals.

Thank you for reading this blog post. I hope you've found it informative and helpful in finding new ways to manage and reduce chronic pain through yoga therapy and mindfulness.


 

Our articles are not designed to replace medical advice. If you have an injury we recommend seeing a qualified health professional. We offer both in-person assessments and online consultations.

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