Will asana practice reduce
my chronic pain?
It depends. Some asanas can
help reduce pain by stretching and
strengthening the aected area(s).
However, biomechanics is just one
piece of the puzzle. At its most basic
level, what your brain interprets as
“pain” starts as a signal received
from a receptor (nociceptor) in your
body. Research has shown that the
amount of pain perceived doesn’t
depend on the amount of tissue
damage as seen in X-ray or MRI
scans. This means that without the
brain there is no pain; but this
doesn’t mean pain is imagined. Your
brain builds your pain experience
just as it constructs your reality and
perspective. The level of pain you
experience is based on your brain’s
interpretation of the level of danger
those signals represent. So, as with
chronic stress, chronic pain is partly
a problem with regulation, often
related to a faulty alarm system.
Research shows that relaxing yoga
asanas and practices, such as
meditation and pranayama, can
help regulate the pain response.
Did you know?
causes gray matter
but the areas of
the brain that are
chronic pain are
the increase of
in those areas.
How much do I
need to meditate
to reduce pain?
Research has shown that less
than 1½ hours of meditation training
may help alleviate pain and diminish
pain-related brain changes. One
study showed that just four
20-minute mindfulness classes
reduced the unpleasantness of pain
by 57 percent and the intensity of
pain by 40 percent. It wasn’t just the
perception of the pain that changed:
the brain’s activity also measurably
changed. The same study showed,
via fMRI scans, that meditation
reduced pain-related activation of
the primary somatosensory cortex.
Instead of a spike of activity in the
area of the somatosensory cortex
related to the location of the pain,
researchers found that, while
meditating, participants had more
brain activity reecting sensory
awareness of the neck and throat,
which represented the participants’
mindfulness of their breathing.
practices, such as
help regulate the
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