Yoga and the Holistic Management of Pain

Updated: March 23, 2024

As you know, many people struggle with the experience
between physical pain and in many cases, drug addiction
starts because the only management
for pain is something
like oxycodone or a narcotic opiate. And frequently this leads
to addiction. Pain is a very
complex phenomenon and is experienced
differently in different people. So last year, I and my colleagues at the Chopra
Foundation; colleagues included
Eddie Stern, yoga teacher,
Ryan Castle, our research assistant and
research executive, we also included William Bushnell, who's an M.D./PhD
anthropologist, and of course, also one of our research professors, Paul Mills. The paper
we published was called Yoga
and Pain, a Mind-Body
Complex System. And it began by challenging
traditional reductionist
approaches to pain management, which focus on treating individual symptoms, which is basically
all of reductionist
medicine. Our paper
advocates for a systematic,
systemic approach that recognizes the interconnectedness
of the mind and body's
reaction to pain. Our paper
went on to review the different
factors involved in pain,
including the nervous system, emotions and health
factors.

It explained
how these factors interact
with each other to create a complex pain experience. Our paper discussed
how yoga functions as a systems approach
to pain management. Yoga can help
to improve the pain perception
and management. The perception of
pain and management by several means. Number one,
it reduces stress and anxiety. Number two,
it improves mood and emotional
well-being. Number three,
it increases physical fitness
and flexibility. Number four, it improves
sleep quality. Number five, it reduces
inflammation. So our paper also provided a review of the scientific
literature on the use of yoga
for pain management. The review
showed that yoga has been shown
to be effective for a wide range
of pain conditions, including chronic
pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia and headaches.

So this is a very
practical recommendation
for incorporating yoga into pain
management treatment plans. And our paper
also emphasized the importance
of working with,
of course, qualified yoga instructors
to ensure that yoga is practiced safely
and effectively. Overall,
our paper provided a compelling argument for the use of yoga as
a complementary or alternative treatment
to pain management and included
all the references and the scientific evidence for the recommendations
we made. So is pain a perceptual
experience? Of course it is. It is entangled,
though, with our expectations,
our beliefs, our emotions,
our relationships and other factors that go into creating well-being,
including good sleep, vagal stimulation, ideally a diet
that has maximum diversity
of plant-based foods so that we can resurrect a healthy
microbiome.

And of course, the daily and
seasonal routines that allow us to balance our
biological rhythms. Overall, only a holistic approach
to pain management will ultimately
be effective and reduce the epidemic of opioid and other narcotic addictions. If you want any more information,
just check out our paper on Yoga and Pain:
A Mind-Body Complex system published in the journal Frontiers
in Brain Research in 2023. And if you're
interested in becoming
a yoga teacher, a qualified Yoga
teacher, now we have a Chopra certification
for yoga teachers that is recognized
and certified by the Yoga
Alliance. It's being currently
offered through the International
Institute of Nutrition. (IIN)
All this information is available
on the Internet. Please check it out. Thank you..

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