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  • Susie Orr

GENTLE YOGA AS A TREATMENT FOR CHRONIC PAIN


One in five Australians is living with persistent or chronic pain (chronic means experienced for more than 3 months). What we know now about pain is that all pain is produced in the brain. Damage to tissues such as bones, ligaments, muscles normally heals within 3 – 6 months. If we experience pain for longer than 6 months it could be attributed to an over-sensitised brain and nervous system rather than tissue damage.


What does this mean? It means the brain has forgotten how to turn down the pain signals. However the encouraging news (within the past 10 years to the best of my knowledge) is that we can turn down pain signals to de-sensitise the brain and nervous system, in effect re-training them.


I find it fascinating then that the ancient practice of Yoga offers a holistic method of dialling down pain signals -


Distraction

Mindfulness (notice your thought patterns, become present)

Gentle, safe movement

Mantras (positive words)

Meditation (visualisation)

Encouraging interoception (another word for somatic - awareness of your body from the inside out)


Pre-pain killers, I assume yogis realised their yoga practice helped them deal with pain?


The evidence is that how you move, think and feel can be re-learnt. You can train your plastic brain to create more safety to switch off pain


You may find natural pain relief through a gentle yoga practice where you move, think and feel differently and become ‘present’ during guided body scans to give the brain and nervous system other information apart from pain, make it feel safe, supported, soothed.


Each movement you make and experience as safe will help retrain the nervous system


The beauty and relevance of a gentle somatic yoga practice is it encourages new ways of moving that require all your mental focus with very little physical effort. In class you’ll self-pace your movements, moving slowly and safely to avoid setting off the body’s over-active alarm system. This encourages movement without fear.


Nerves can desensitise as your brain learns that movement isn’t going to hurt


A self-paced practice supports you and how you feel in the moment; if any movement doesn’t feel good, visualise the movement instead – visualising is an effective way of activating your brain, distracting it from pain signals, creating new neural pathways and dampening down the alarm system.


As a former massage therapist since 1993, I’ve seen my fair share of people in pain. A number of my yoga students also suffer from pain but are finding great benefit from gentle somatic yoga, unwinding years of chronic tension, stress and beginning to move more easily again with less pain.


Come and join us on Mondays at the studio for Gentle Yoga from 9:15 – 10:30

Yoga4life, 12 Paul St, Brighton, 4017. Gentle Yoga for all with the option of doing the class in a chair.


Can’t make Mondays?

Try the Friday Zoom class from 07:30 -08:30 – this class is recorded and is available for 6 days


Please note, I do not have specialised pregnancy yoga training so none of my classes are suitable during pregnancy. Please get in touch with my colleague Pamela Walker for your needs during this wonderful time of your life. https://www.facebook.com/pamelawalkeryoga


References:

Taken from https://www.painaustralia.org.au/

Quoted from Pain Is Really Strange by Steve Haines


This is a great 5 minute video about pain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWMKucuejIs&t=1s


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