In ancient times, yoga was revered for its numerous benefits, including spiritual, psychological and physical. Thanks to the wealth of research done by health experts and scientists, confirmation of the numerous physical benefits of this practice have come to light.
These days yoga is largely embraced by the medical community as a valid alternative to medication and surgery for everything from depression, chronic pain, inflammation, to sleeping disorders.
In this article, I’ll focus specifically on yoga poses that people suffering from 6 of the most common types of chronic pain will find relief from. Let’s get started.
Locust Pose – For Back Pain
If you’re tired of having to take pain medications every time your back starts to ache, yoga may be an excellent alternative. New research has found that attending a yoga class tailored for persons suffering from back pain yields the same results as physical therapy sessions.
The results, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, conform to the guidelines for back pain treatment that were given by the American College of Physicians. This group of health experts believe that alternative treatments such as yoga and massages are much safer than pain medicines.
Of the many yoga poses for back pain, the locust pose is my favorite. This yoga routine targets several muscles including your core, back, glutes and hamstrings. If performed correctly, you will experience immense relief on your lower back.
- Lie on your belly with your face down
- Place your arms on the sides with your palms facing up. At the same time, bring your feet close together and place your chin on the mat,
- While taking a deep breath, lift both of your legs from the floor starting at the waist level while peeling your shoulders and head off the ground as you look up. Your legs should still be together and your knees should be about 40 degrees from the floor.
- Hold this position for a couple of seconds while taking short breaths.
Extended Puppy Pose – For Insomnia
One of the main reasons why people have trouble sleeping is due to stress and anxiety. The result? Insufficient or poor sleep.
Yoga can help improve your sleep patterns by i) reducing your stress levels ii) calming your mind and body.
The extended puppy pose (what a cute name!) is often performed near the end of a yoga session. But more than that, it’s a great remedy for persons experiencing insomnia because it helps your body and mind to relax.
- Come on all fours so your back is parallel to the ground.
- Start walking your hands forward as you slowly extend your entire back
- When your arms are completely straight and extended, drop your forehead to the ground.
- Your buttock should be pointed upwards towards the sky
- Close your eyes and take deep breaths.
- Pay attention to whole your body starting with your head all the way to your feet. Doing so should help you eliminate any stress or tension you’re feeling.
- Hold the pose for 3 to 5 minutes.
Standing Forward Bend – For Migraines
Most people who suffer from migraines have tried every possible medication they can think of. While these drugs do provide relief, some have adverse side effects that scare patients away. According to Healthline, long-term use of these drugs can lead to stroke, damage to the kidney and stomach ulcers.
Thankfully, a recent study published in the International Journal of Yoga proves that yoga can be used as an alternative treatment for migraines.
When combined with conventional care, yoga reduces the intensity and frequency of migraines. In particular, migraine patients should try Uttanasana or standing forward bend pose.
- Stand straight on your yoga mat and ensure your weight is distributed evenly between your feet. Your heels should be a few inches apart.
- Inhale deeply while stretching your arms toward the ceiling.
- Exhale slowly. At the same time, bend forward and bring your palms to the floor. Ensure your fingers are in line with your toes.
- Maintain this pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
Bridge Pose – For Arthritis
If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, attending a yoga class may be the last thing on your mind. However, gentle poses have been proven to reduce the severity of both the physical and psychological symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is based on a study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.
The Setubandhasa or bridge pose is a great example of how yoga relieves arthritis symptoms. More specifically, it helps to relieve pain, stiffness and discomfort, all of which are symptoms of RA.
- Lie flat on your yoga mat and bend your knees. Your feet should be lying flat and firmly on the floor and your arms should be on the sides.
- Exhale and raise your body away from the floor. This way, your head and neck will still be supported by the mat but the rest of your body will be in the air. Ensure your thighs are parallel to the surface.
- If you need extra support to hold this pose, you can press your hands down. Stay in this position for at least half a minute.
Bow Pose – For Asthma
One of the main tenets of yoga is proper breathing. Thus, it comes as no surprise that yoga can help asthmatic patients improve their breathing.
A study published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Science showed that yoga poses can benefit asthma patients in two main ways. One, they help reduce the number of asthmatic attacks. Two, they enable patients to be less reliant on asthma-relieving drugs.
Also known as Dhanurasana, this chest opening yoga routine can help persons suffering from asthma. This pose targets the entire chest, opening up your lungs to breathe more easily.
- Begin the pose by laying face down on a mat, chin and belly touching the ground.
- On exhale, bend your knees towards your buttock while keeping them hip width apart.
- Reach back with your hands and grab your outer ankles.
- On inhale, lift your thighs, head, chest, and upper torso off the mat. Press your shoulder blades together as you gave forward or look towards the ceiling.
- Hold this pose for up to 20-30 seconds. Do not forget to breathe!
Dolphin Plank Pose – For Sciatica
WebMD describes Sciatica as a gut-wrenching pain that starts in your lower back and extends to your legs. This occurs when your sciatic nerve is compressed by something in your body, usually the herniated disc.
A study done by Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation confirmed the positive effects of yoga therapy for sciatica patients.
But even though yoga helps to reduce the pain caused by sciatica, it’s always wise to consult your physician. That said, the dolphin plank pose is one of the most recommended yoga moves for sciatica sufferers.
- Kneel on the yoga mat then bring your forearms to the floor. This should cause them to be directly in front of your knees.
- While pushing down through your arms, raise your knees and start stretching your legs backwards.
- Lift your entire upper body as well so your entire body is now above and parallel to the ground.
- Relax your neck and maintain the pose for 3 to 10 breaths.
Being a low-impact activity, yoga has proven to be the perfect complementary treatment for a variety of conditions that include back pain, arthritis, sciatica, migraines, asthma, depression and even insomnia. If you currently suffer from these ailments, I highly recommend giving yoga a try. And as always, consult with your doctor first to make sure your body is fit enough.
George is the senior editor and ergonomist at Ergonomic Trends. You can find him hitting the gym or the yoga studio when he’s not working hard at a cafe as a digital nomad.