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Yoga for Pain Management

by Marianne Navada
yoga pain management

29% of Americans use yoga as a form of pain management according to a 2022 survey. That’s an 18% jump from 20 years prior, when only 11% of Americans look to yoga to manage pain. 

When it comes to healing, yoga has helped me deal with carpal tunnel, dizziness, headache, fatigue, and depression. I know that yoga won’t cure everything, and that medical drugs save lives. But for the occasional aches and pains, I try to feel and assess how I can heal my body before resorting to pills. The fix might not be as quick and easy, but the process of helping the body heal itself forms a bond. The pain presents an opportunity to practice kindness to myself and to listen. When I have these days, I tend to be more mindful of what I eat. I make sure to take breaks from work. I slow down. 

Women experience more headaches than men. Studies show that hormonal changes, specifically a drop in estrogen can cause headaches. This can occur before and during menstruation, pregnancy, birth control use, or peri and menopausal stage. I find that I do get more headaches during this time and also during certain activities such as being out in the sun for too long. 

The first step is to not always reach for a pill when I feel a headache starting. Rather, I unroll my yoga mat. 

Yoga for Headache and Migraine

Here’s my go-to 10 minute yoga routine that helps me deal with headaches and migraines. Please note that I’m not a physician. This is not medical advice or an advocacy campaign. Always consult a professional for any health issues. 

  1. Child’s Pose (balasana): Start on all fours with hands and knees on the ground. Gently place the forehead on the floor. Widen the space between the knees if you need more room to for the chest to closer to the ground.Move the head side to side massaging the forehead. I like to keep my hands next to my hips but hands can also be extended in front of you with palms on the mat. Stay for 5 deep breaths. 
  2. Cat-Cow: With the hands and knees on the ground, inhale look, tilt the sits bones to the sky, exhale and round the back. Repeat slowly 5x. 
  3. Downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana): Starting with the hands and knees on the ground, push the bat away from you and lift the knees off the ground. Downdog is a form of inversion and it allows me to increase blood flow to the head. Stay for 5 breaths. 
  4. Forward-fold: From downward facing dog, walk the hands to the feet and let the head and upper body dangle. Stay for 5 breaths.
  5. Mountain pose (tadasana): From your forward fold, bend the knees, round the back, and slowly lift up to standing. Plant the feet firmly on the ground, hands next to hips letting the palms fall naturally. Close the eyes and feel the swaying and conduct a body scan. Take 5 deep breaths. 

More on Pain Management

A case of alternative medicine going mainstream, the study also finds aside from yoga and pain management, the use of massage and meditation to manage pain has also increased.  

Tell me about your experience with alternative medicine and pain management: Do you get massages, do yoga, or meditate for pain management? Let me know at marianne@lifdb.com. I may use your contribution in a future article or newsletter.

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