How to Address Chronic Pain

Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that 126 million U.S. adults (that’s more than half of the adult population) live with chronic pain. The temporary nature of acute pain helps us deal with it (ie, don’t use that finger: the cut is still healing).

However, chronic pain – lasting longer than 3 months – can foster depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and more, as we seek to manage the interruption in our activities of daily living over time.

People with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop depression. “Experiencing depression, mood fluctuations, anxiety, altered perceptions and cognition, and emotional instability are all commonly associated with chronic pain.

This is a result of the perceived stress that impacts the body on a physical and chemical level.” In addition, chronic pain makes it hard to get restorative sleep, which can then increase pain.

Fortunately, current data demonstrates that there are a lot of practices, tools, and resources available to us to manage chronic pain and the stress that accompanies it. These practices have no side effects and, in many cases, have been proven to be even more effective than pharmaceuticals!

What are sustainable, accessible things you can implement to reduce chronic pain and cultivate long-term overall wellness?

1. Yoga, Especially Restorative & Gentle

Gentle and Restorative Yoga help release stored tension from the tissues. Restorative Yoga in particular uses props to support the body, creating a sense of safety for the nervous system and allowing the brain to rest from the bracing & hypervigilance common in chronic pain. Gentle yoga can safely increase the range of motion in the joints, reducing stiffness

In the joints, muscles, and connective tissue, Yoga can increase the flow of fresh blood into the cells, while enhancing the release of metabolic waste. This increase in nourishment and cleansing functions within the tissues can help heal the initial chronic pain injury, while also addressing the snowball effect of secondary pain and limited mobility.

Various studies have demonstrated that yoga helps reduce pain perception, decrease inflammation, and improve mobility among people with a range of chronic pain conditions. Yoga can rebalance the body’s chemical response to pain, releasing feel-good hormones while minimizing stress and tension.

2. Pranayama & Breathwork

Pranayama (aka “breath control”) and breathing practices can have profound impacts on the body’s experience and perception of pain. Our muscles hold tension and guard as a result of chronic pain, and in turn further aggravate the pain itself. Diaphragmatic, deep breathing has an extremely therapeutic effect on chronic pain by profoundly relaxing the muscles and reducing this pain cycle response.

In fact, the National Institutes of Health found that yoga and pranayama “harmonize the physiological system and initiate a relaxation response in the neuro endocrinal system. This consists of decreased metabolism, quieter breathing, stable blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, lower heart rate and slow brain wave pattern.”

Researchers have demonstrated amazing correlations between Electroenchephalography (EEG) patterns and breath patterns: slow breathing increases the α waves in the EEG, and adding feedback of breath sounds further significantly increased it from baseline.

“Diaphragmatic breathing is probably the single most valuable thing that a patient in chronic pain can learn on the road to recuperation.”

3. Meditation

“Meditation and pranayama, along with relaxing yoga poses, can help individuals deal with the emotional aspects of chronic pain, reduce anxiety and depression effectively and improve the quality of life perceived.” The positive impacts of meditation go beyond relaxation within the muscles and impact the deepest layers of our nervous system.

Research shows that meditation uses neural pathways that make the brain less sensitive to pain and increases use of the brain’s own pain-reducing opioids. Meditation is free, and the only side effects you’ll have to worry about are feeling blissed out or possibly dozing off. Meditation is incorporated in almost every Yoga class: usually in the form of savasana, or “corpse pose”, at the very end.

4. Myofascial Release & Massage

Therapeutic massage & bodywork may relieve chronic pain by way of several mechanisms, including relaxing tense muscles, tendons, and joints; relieving stress & anxiety; and possibly helping to “close the pain gate” by stimulating competing nerve fibers and impeding pain messages to and from the brain.

Massage lowers heart rate & blood pressure, reduces stress, increases relaxation, reduces pain & tension, improves circulation, helps balance hormones, improves immune function, and much more.

It can be especially effective in reducing chronic pain – both the source of the pain itself, as well as the snowball effect of emotional & physical tension due to the initial cause.

If you suffer from chronic patterns of tension that come from old injuries, scar tissue, and/or compensatory muscle / soft tissue fatigue, give your body the attention it needs to heal with myofascial release or massage.

It takes the body longer to unwind and reprogram if it has been out of alignment for a long period of time, meaning multiple sessions will help you avoid a rebound effect where the muscles and or connective tissue go right back after only one or two sessions.

5. Other Practices

There are a host of other nourishing, supportive practices you can implement to reduce chronic pain itself and the negative impacts it has on the mind, body, and spirit. These include goal setting, mindfulness training, sleep routine, and behavioral therapies. See below for recommended reading and resources.

How Can We Help?

At Waynesville Yoga Center, we offer many modalities of healing that can help you manage your chronic pain, such as:

  • daily yoga classes with seasoned instructors who can offer modifications & props to best support you and your pain
  • virtual programs, such as Yoga for Back Care, that you can access and benefit from at home
  • Myofascial Release, Massage, and Bodywork to reduce pain & inflammation and address the root causes of chronic pain

Contact us for details: 828.246.6570 – hello@waynesvilleyogacenter.com

Recommended Reading

Yoga For Pain Relief, by Kelly McGonigal
Yoga Nidra, by Richard Miller
The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk
Waking by Matthew Sanford

References

Harvard Health
Mayo Clinic
London Pain Clinic
Very Well Health
Healthline
Cleveland Clinic
National Institutes of Health
Augusta Pain Center
AbleTo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • “Jay is an always-patient, highly skilled teacher who makes everyone feel welcome and able to participate. Her class is always a joy and rewarding.”

    – Barbara S.

  • “YTT provided me with the tools and knowledge to deepen my own yoga practice and help others with theirs. This program challenged me in unforeseen ways and I am so thankful to have experienced this journey with such incredible teachers and fellow students. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

    – Hayley P.

  • I signed up for YTT thinking I had time to myself to focus on me, but the world has other plans. It’s still the best decision I’ve made, and I am so grateful that what I have learned has come to me at a time that I can apply it to so much real world trauma. This YTT has been a saving grace!

    – Kim T.

  • “After my first private session with Amber my body felt so good! Because of her guidance and personal assisting I highly recommend working with her.”

    – Barbara B.

  • “With all of my health issues, I never would have believed I could ever learn to teach yoga. WYC’s Real Yoga for Real Bodies built my confidence as a leader, reminding me that my journey is my strength, and I will actually be a better teacher because of the challenges I’ve experienced. Thank you so much for creating a program that encouraged us to bring the beauty and the beast through this incredible transformation.”

    – CJH

  • “When I first began practicing yoga, it seemed like the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I bought a few books but still didn’t feel like a real student of the practice of yoga. When the 200 hour YTT was offered, I saw it as the perfect chance to really expand my knowledge. I have come to realize that with this deep dive into the practice of yoga, I have a strong knowledge bank that will allow me to continue to expand my knowledge of yoga for years to come.”

    – Jann F.

  • “Since I started taking classes at Waynesville Yoga Center, I can now go down the stairs ‘normally’, instead of one foot at a time. I’m really pleased with how these classes are helping me.”

    – Carol L.

  • “I haven’t felt this good since I got my puppy, ten years ago!…”

    – Steve S.

  • “Amber is an incredibly gifted instructor, particularly when it comes to yoga. She is calming, thorough, and provides that extra-added touch of essential oils, gentle adjustments, and themed practices. I love that Amber’s yoga classes are dynamic and she’s taught moves in her classes that I’ve never done in 15 years of practicing yoga. She’s a breath of fresh air in the yoga scene. I highly recommend her!”

    – Christine G.

  • “Jay takes time to answer questions, to give help when needed in performing movements and is a gentle, calm person which helps my yoga experience.”

    – Anita S.

  • “What has set the program apart for me, as well, is the approach to teaching that encourages us not to focus on a “perfect” pose, but rather perfecting a pose within our bodies and the bodies of our students. This means everyone’s expression of a pose will be slightly different, and there is such beauty in that. It runs counter to so much that we are taught elsewhere in life.”

    – Kristen, B

  • “Jay is a wonderful yoga instructor; has great variety in classes; is always dependable (there and on time); is kind and understanding; and always available to answer questions and give additional instruction if necessary. She is calm and classes are enjoyable no matter the challenge.”

    – Myndie S.

  • “I woke up one morning and realized I was 60 years old, that I could live well into my 80s and that I had to do something to improve my strength and stamina if I wanted a good quality of life. I was caring for small grandchildren periodically, and it exhausted me.

    As soon as I saw Waynesville Yoga Center was opening, I came. I am so thankful to Jay for a place where I feel safe, not self-conscious, and where I can attend classes that benefit me without feeling in competition with anyone else. Restorative and Yin have improved my flexibility and meditation skills; Beginner Flow, Flow Level 1 and Gentle Chair Yoga have increased my strength and balance and also challenged me, as has Barre and Balance!

    I feel better than I ever have – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have met so many new friends. All of the instructors I have had are wonderful and willing to share of themselves. Thank you, Jay, your endeavor is making a tremendous difference in so many lives!”

    – Terri M.

  • “That special moment when your body, mind and spirit blend into a yummy synchronized yogic OHMMMMMMM……..yeah, YTT has given me like a hundred of those so far! You guys are awesome!”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “Jay met me prior to class to help me polish my yoga teaching skills. I really appreciate her willingness to meet and teach me to make me a better instructor.”

    – Brooke H.

  • “One of the things I have loved about the program is that we are not just learning how to teach certain poses; I have been learning things I didn’t even know I could learn about yoga in general, including about the subtle energies, how they tie to both anatomy and the philosophy of yoga.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “I waited years looking for the right yoga teacher training program and WYC was definitely the reason why. I’m absolutely convinced I could not have found a program that was more creative, inclusive, or supportive. I would definitely attribute that to the meticulous design of the curriculum and incredibly talented teachers you brought in to lead so many cool facets of the course. You drew in some of the most amazing students with all this awesomeness and I’ve been so thrilled to learn alongside them this year so thank you, thank you, thank you for every last delicious bit of it.”

    – CJH

  • “WYC YTT has given me such tremendous depth in my practice of yoga on and off the mat. I’ve loved seeing my evolution this year as I learned all the ways I can add yoga to my home and work life. I started just expecting to build a stronger personal practice, but now I am so excited to see where this will all take me in the years to come.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “Amber, you’re an incredible teacher! You are a natural at creating flows that challenge and inspire your students.”

    – Michelle G.C.

  • “My experience during my YTT at WYC has not only increased my confidence on the mat but has opened up endless possibilities and opportunities for a courageous, confident, and grateful life off the mat. “

    – Teresa F.

  • “Thank you all so much for offering this. It has truly been a gift in my life and I am very grateful to be part of this class!”

    – Kristen, B

Our mission is to provide a safe and accepting space where students can learn, heal, grow - and have fun! We work to create peace in our world, communities and families by first creating peace within ourselves.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

We'll send special offers, yoga articles, event information, and more - directly to your inbox!

Visit Us

Contact Us

Waynesville Yoga Center
274 S Main St
Waynesville, NC 28786

828.246.6570

hello@waynesvilleyogacenter.com

YogaFinder.com          

Schedule