Many years of research aimed at improving our understanding of chronic pain led to concrete conclusions that pain is a mind-body process. This means that pain is influenced not only by physical illness and injury but also by our thoughts, attitudes, emotions, past trauma and levels of stress. However, it is now also evident that through movement, breath, relaxation and meditation we are able to tap into the mind and body’s natural pain suppressing systems- and can do so with yoga!
Yoga focuses on gentle movement, breath and awareness and therefore offers many benefits to people facing a variety of health conditions. It can be used to alleviate stress, insomnia, nausea, chronic pain and fatigue, as well as provide an overall sense of wellbeing! Practicing yoga can be significant in management of chronic pain–in that it is an excellent system for dealing with both acute and chronic stress. When stress is high, the breath becomes quick and erratic, the muscles tense and tighten and mood plummets. Yoga offers simple breathing exercises that anyone can do, which can shift the body from a fight-or-flight stress reaction into relaxation mode. In addition, chronic pain can cause shallow breathing; when you hold your breath, your body becomes less oxygenated and toxins rapidly build up in the body. Yoga aids with deep full breathing–the lungs work, the diaphragm expands, while the back and abdominal muscles work. Not only does the body become oxygenated, but the breath becomes one of the most important tools for releasing tensions and anxiety.
Yoga is a complete mind-body system. Practicing yoga offers continued reduction of stress–releasing all of that muscular tension, coping with burdensome emotions (anxiety, fear, sadness) and training the mind to be less reactive to painful sensations. Pain relievers can lose their effectiveness over time, yet Yoga becomes more effective with each session. This is because yoga creates profound changes in the circulation of the body, nervous system and well-being.
A carefully set up Yoga practice is unlikely to intervene with other pain treatments and the great news is–side effects of Yoga are almost always positive! Yoga is likely to make you feel cheerful, healthier, stronger, more flexible, relaxed and more effective in your everyday life!
Here are 3 Yoga Stretches to Help Relieve Hip and Lower Back Pain
Move and Release Hip Tension.
Lizards have loose hips and this pose is a testament to that! Step your left foot forward several feet in front of the right foot. Bend the left knee until it lines up perfectly with the ankle. Drop the right knee to the ground and keep the toes curled under on that foot to stretch the calf muscle. Walk the left foot out to the side and place both elbows on top of blocks on the inside edge of the left foot. Keep hips lined up parallel to each other. You are opening the right psoas muscle and the left inner thigh.
Bound Ankle Pose:
Open and Relax the Inner Thighs and Groin.
Bring the soles of your feet together, pulling the heels close to your groin, bending the knees, and butterfly flare the legs open. If you notice your knees are set too high to relax, place a blanket directly under the sit bones to prop the hips up. Keeping your spine straight, lead with the chest, pull your shoulders back, and fold toward your feet.
Cow Face Pose:
Stretch the Spine.
Begin by threading the left leg under your right leg. Work towards stacking the knees, while keeping both sit bones on the ground. Tuck the toes in to protect the knees. Sit in the pose for several minutes. Once the muscles begin to loosen and you no longer feel a stretch, fold forward with a straight spine. If this stretch proves to be too intense, just put both sit bones on a blanket and place a block or blanket between the knees.