With its origins in Eastern medicine, yoga has been used as a form of exercise for centuries. Although its ability to tone the body and improve flexibility are well known, many people are not aware that yoga could help ease the agony of conditions like arthritis, lower back pain and even lower cholesterol. Here we explore how yoga can provide pain relief with advice on how you could add it to your daily routine.
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years. It is centred on boosting mental and physical wellbeing. There are several different types of yoga to suit different abilities and goals, from gentle breathing techniques and stretching for beginners to more advanced, physically challenging poses. For those new to yoga, Hatha combines poses with relaxing breathing techniques. For the more experienced, Bikram yoga is usually done in a high temperature room to build flexibility whilst Ashtanga requires strength and stamina.
What are the health benefits of yoga?
After being used to help physical, spiritual and emotional health for centuries, there have been several recent research studies that could give some weight to the health claims that surround yoga.
Yoga can help ease chronic pain
It has been used to help relieve painful symptoms associated with chronic pain conditions like migraines, arthritis and lower back pain. During a clinical trial, 228 adults with long-term moderate lower back pain were instructed to take yoga classes or carry out exercise and lifestyle changes for three months. Those that took yoga classes were more likely to report that their back pain had improved or had totally gone compared to the others.
Yoga can help relieve pain during pregnancy
Some might say yoga is the ideal workout for pregnant women – not only is it a mild, relaxing form of exercise, it could also ease the discomfort many women experience whilst they are pregnant. Research has revealed that women who practiced yoga in their second trimester (week 13 to week 28) reported significant reductions in physical pain. And although those in their third trimester didn’t experience pain relief, they did report that they felt less stressed and anxious.