Unless you’re Mr. Fantastic from Fantastic Four, you’re prone to chronic pain at some point in life. Check out these yoga asanas that can help prevent, reduce the risk and the discomfort of chronic pain in various parts of the body.
Yoga and chronic pain
The deep breathing and gentle stretching of yoga helps increase your blood circulation, improve your mood, boost your immune system, and increase your flexibility. Certain poses deepen feelings of relaxation and well-being while others treat specific types of chronic pain. The practice of yoga gives you time to slow down, relax, and reconnect, which helps you to manage chronic pain effectively.
Here’re a few poses to give you relief from the pain.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
The name is derived from the Sanskrit words hala meaning ‘plow’ and asana meaning ‘posture’ or ‘seat’.
How to: The practitioner lies on the floor, lifts the legs, and then places them behind the head.
- Lie down on your back, with your legs together and your hands palms down by your sides, inhale and raise your legs up.
- Exhale, then inhale and bring your hips up off the floor. Support your back with your hands, keeping your elbows as close to one another as possible. Then, without bending your knees, exhale and bring your legs down behind your head.
- If you cannot yet touch the floor with your feet, remain breathing deeply in this position.
- If your feet comfortably reach the floor, push them as far behind your head as you can and, with your toes curled under, push your torso up and your heels back.
- Stretch your arms out behind your back with the hands flat on the floor. Breathe slowly and deeply.
- It gives flexibility to the spine and necks, nourishes the spinal nerves, and strengthens the back, shoulder, and arm muscles while releasing tension.
- By compressing the abdomen, it also massages the internal organs. When you perform the Plough, be sure to keep your spine stretched up and your knees straight.
- Your feet may not reach the floor to begin with, but as your spine becomes supple, the weight of your legs will gradually pull them down.
- Advanced students can go straight into the pose from the Shoulder stand, but beginners should relax in between. Use the Shoulder stand roll-out to come out of the Plough.
Caution: This pose can put significant strain on the cervical spine, which does not normally undergo this type of stress, and can cause injury if not performed properly. As alternatives, simply lying on the back and raising the legs into a hamstring stretch, or doing a seated forward bend may be appropriate.
Roaring lion pose (Simha garjan asana)
- Sit in Thunderbolt or Diamond pose (Vajrasana). Knees apart parallel to your shoulders.
- Now place the palms of the hands on the floor between the knees, with the fingers pointing towards the body.
- Lean forward and gently tilt the head back and gaze at the eyebrow centre.
- Now inhale slowly and open the mouth and extend the tongue then while exhaling produce a sound from the “aach” keeping the mouth wide. Then close the mouth and breath in.
- This is one round. Do it for a minimum 10 rounds.
Benefits: Roaring lion pose is perfect for reducing the chances of snoring and thyroid.
- This asana relieves stress and cerebral tension,
- Helps in alleviating anger, anxiety and insomnia.
- This pose is excellent for alleviating diseases of throat, neck, nose, ears, eyes and mouth.
Peacock Pose (Mayurasana)
- Sit on the ground in Vajrasana.
- Bend forward raising your thighs and chest.
- Join your elbows together and bring them to the center of stomach.
- Now put your complete body weight on your elbows and raise your legs and knees from the ground.
- After some days of practice, spread your legs behind like the feathers of a Peacock and keep your head straight. Make sure that your elbows are at the center of the stomach. Keep your breathing normal.
- In the beginning practice it for 3 to 5 seconds and then increase the time gradually.
- This asana cures the stomach ailments and constipation.
- The heart, chest, spinal cord, arms, legs and ribs get strength and become stronger.
- This asana brings a glow to your face, and improves vision.
Caution: Weak and old people, and those suffering from high blood pressure and heart ailments should not practice this asana. As this is a very difficult Yogasana, it should be practiced under the supervision of a yoga teacher and do not do in a hurry .By practicing regularly, it becomes easy to do this asana.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
- Lie flat on your back keeping the legs straight on the floor with feet together.
- Bend the legs and sit in Lotus pose (padmasana) in the lying position. Carefully bend backward, supporting the body with the arms and elbows.
- Lift the chest slightly, take the head back and lower the crown of the head to the floor.
- Hold the big toes and rest the elbows on the floor.
- Adjust the position of head and hands so that the back is arched to the maximum.
- Relax the arms and the whole body, allowing the head, buttocks and legs to support the weight of the body close the eyes and breathe slowly and deeply.
- Stay in this posture as long as you feel comfortable. Return to starting position, reversing the order of movements. Do it only once.
Benefits: This asana stretches the intestines and abdominal organs and is useful for all abdominal ailments. The dorsal region is fully extended in this posture and the chest is well expanded.
- Practice of this asana is very good for asthma and bronchitis as it encourages deep respiration.
- The asana is very useful for the treatment of constipation, tonsillitis, spondylitis and disorders of reproductive system.
Caution: People who suffer for heart disease, hernia, ulcers, H.B.P and pregnant women should not practice this asana.
Skull Shining Breathing Technique (Kapalbhati pranayama)
Kapal means forehead and Bhati means light or knowledge. Hence Kapalbhati pranayama brings a state of light or clarity to the frontal region of the brain.
- Sit in any comfortable position. Keep head and spine straight and hands resting on the knees in (Meditation Gesture) Dhyana Mudra.
- Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
- Now without paying attention to inhaling, exhale with force rapidly and vigorously. Inhalation should be spontaneous involving no effort.
- When you exhale pull in the abdomen toward the spine. Perform 10 respirations to begin with. Continue the practice and slowly increase respiration.
- This pranayama is useful for detoxifying the body. It improves the memory and sharpens the mind.
- Diseases like asthma, respiratory troubles, allergies and sinus etc. get cured.
- This pranayama purifies left (Ida) and right (Pingla Nadis) and also removes sensory distraction from the mind. It also relieves constipation, gas; blockages in arteries are also cleared.
- It also helps in losing weight.
- Peace and stability of mind is secured.
Caution: Those with high blood pressure, heart problems and hernia should not do this pranayama.
Dead Man’s Pose (Shavasana)
- Lie flat on your back with arms about 15cm away from the body. Palms should be facing up-wards. Let the fingers of both hands curl up slightly.
- Close your eyes.
- The head and spine should be in a straight line. Relax the whole body and stop all physical movements. Become aware of your natural breathing.
- Now with every inhalation chant the word SO and with every exhalation think of the word HUM repeat the mantra for five to 10 minutes.
Duration: According to time available focus first on relaxing the whole body, then focus on your breath.
Benefits: This asana relaxes the whole psycho–physiological system.It should be practiced before sleep. Try not to your move body at all during practice of this asana, because the slightest movement will create muscular contraction. This asana works for high blood pressure patients, heart patients, depression and stress.
Yogic Tip for Chronic pain
Eating spinach once a day is an old-time remedy for relieving chronic body pain and fatigue. You can’t go wrong. Spinach contains potassium as well as many B vitamins, all of which are important to energy metabolism.