Can something as simple as yoga really have an effect upon chronic joint pain?
Those who practice the breathing techniques, the simple but powerful postures, and the mind-calming meditation of this age-old discipline have found that yoga has a powerful effect in the natural relief of joint, knee, and back pain and recent scientific tests are also reaching the same conclusion.
How Does Yoga Work to Relieve Chronic Joint Pain?
The aspects of yoga – breathing, relaxation, postures and meditation – distract the mind from pain, reduce the body’s tense reaction to pain and allow the sufferer to move through the pain rather than resisting it. This practice of mind over matter means that the pain loses its full impact.
Yoga works to relieve chronic joint pain by helping the pain center within the brain to regulate the controlling mechanism located within the spinal cord. It also assists the brain in secreting natural painkillers through the body, providing natural pain relief. The postures in yoga also help to send nourishment and oxygen to the spine, the joints, and all the muscles and cells within the body.
It is medically proven that muscles relax when we exhale, so lengthening the time of exhalation reduces tension and replaces it with relaxation. Once a yogi (someone practising yoga) becomes aware of their breathing, they can take charge and achieve calmer, slower respiration which in turn reduces chronic pain.
By nature, the body has a tendency to keep tension in the muscle so the body is on stand-by when the lungs are full and pressurized. Conversely, the muscles relax when you exhale; so long exhalation produces relaxation, lessens tension and lowers pain.
Mental relaxation is more effective in chronic joint pain relief when combined with meditation and rhythmic breathing, which is a step-by-step process towards a state of relaxation.
It is a conscious effort to empty the mind and concentrate on feeling rather than thinking. It requires daily practice which should start with five minutes per day and build up to 20 minutes, once or twice daily.