Deceiving Chronic Pain Through Yoga

30 Jul

Experiencing life through the glasses of pain takes a toll not only on the mind but the body as well. While we know that stress can deteriorate both physical and emotional functions, we can agree that the stress experienced with chronic pain does nothing to stave the suffering. Most can only help their suffering through pain medication. However some find partial relief through alternative medicine.

A new Canadian study published July 27, 2011 has found that alternative medicine can relieve some of the symptoms of chonic pain associated with fibromyalgia in women by participating in a yoga routine twice a week. The study found that the hormone cortisol peaks in the morning for women and weans off during the day. It seems that yoga can stimulate cortisol levels in the bloodstream with an effect of reduced pain.

The study was conducted in a controlled environment where 22 female participants were lead through a 75 minutes yoga routine twice a week for eight weeks. Each participant was given a questionnair before, during, and after each session. Also,  samples of saliva were taken during that time to measure overall cortisol levels in the participant’s system.

According to the study, results suggest that yoga not only increases mindfullness but all alters the cortisol levels in the participants. It was observed that pain or the perception of pain decreased with these combined factors. Since it is known that women with fibromyalgia have lower than normal cortison levels, this treatment plan seems to be an overall success in the increase of cortisol, and the reduction of overall pain as reported by the participants.

The type of yoga involved in the program is referred to as hatha yoga. It is less intense then some of the more popular types of yoga by focusing on slower, deliberate poses that incorporate more breathing and meditative techniques. While some claim that hatha yoga is too slow for their taste, it promotes a more relaxing atmosphere. Combined with the increase in cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia, hatha yoga helps their mental state by forming a more relaxed body and mind. This decrease in stress helps women to cope with the pain better and thus can deceive their body into “feeling” less pain.

More information on the study can be found below:

An eight-week yoga intervention is associated with improvements in pain, psychological functioning and mindfulness, and changes in cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia.


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