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Five simple yoga poses for pain relief

Last updated on: August 29, 2011 16:45 IST

Five simple yoga poses for pain relief

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Shameem Akhtar

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, gives you five simple practices for pain relief.

Yoga offers pain relief in a subtle but sure way. It encourages controlled movement around body areas in trouble. This in turn takes the necessary repairing agents, through a focused blood supply, towards healing that part. For specific types of pain there are different postures that help heal and rejuvenate the troubled area.

Mudras also help by using safe, easy to-do-yourself hand gestures that may be used even in chronic pain for both sustained and immediate pain relief, in some cases being almost as effective as pain killers.
 
Progressive hospitals and doctors encourage yogic meditation, somewhat similar to modern-day hypnosis, for pain relief. Meditation, it has been found, kickstarts the repairing mechanism of the body, called the parasympathetic nervous system.

Tests done on patients, including those with terminal illnesses, has found that yogic meditation does indeed help with pain control. Though the exact route of this mechanism is not yet clear, researchers believe it could be manipulated by focusing the mind on simple activity -- like watching one's own breath or listening to yogic meditation tapes.

This lowers blood pressure, improves breathing, promotes blood circulation, relieves the digestive system of the effects of stress, releases contraction in tense muscles, promotes lymphatic drainage, promotes the movement of repairing agents, boosts nutrient absorption and works on master glands. The last, it seems, holds the key. When the master glands are touched upon, as happens in yoga, they give out the all-clear signal which ripples throughout the body, promoting relief.
 
For more of Shameem's yoga writings visit http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com. Shameem's second book Yoga in the workplace, with photographs by ace photographer Fawzan Husain, is now available at online shops and bookshops across the country. It is also available as e-book, with Kindle, Amazon.

Disclaimer: This column just shares the columnist's passion for yoga which is ideally learned under the guidance of an expert.


Image: A collage fo yogic poses for pain relief
Photographs: Shameem Akhtar
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Five simple yoga poses for pain relief

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Supta baddhakonasana (Lying leg locked pose)

Lie on your back. Bring soles of feet close together, as shown. Draw them closer to the hips. Place back of hands on the ground. Or you may place them on the thighs. If the knees are very stiff or feel too high off the ground, keep cushions under either knee to keep them comfortable.

Lie back for as long as is comfortable, eyes shut. You will find the body releases tensions subtly from several tense or pain spots. It can be deeply relaxing. Watch your breath meditatively. Or, if you practice other forms of yogic meditation attempt it while relaxing  in this pose. This pose is best felt when held for long. Ideally anything over three minutes.

Benefits: It is deeply relaxing. Releases tensions. Promotes hormones from the uro-genital system dealing with our emotions.


Image: Supta baddhakonasana (Lying leg locked pose)

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Five simple yoga poses for pain relief

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Vata naashak mudra (Hand gesture to control the air element in the body)

Hold the index and middle finger down with the thumb. Do for each hand. You may use this mudra while meditating, or while doing pranayama, or independently even while engaged in day to day activity like commuting, or resting on bed, or watching television, though its effects are best when in a meditative mood.

Do for three to five minutes several times a day for pain relief.

Benefits: In yoga each finger is said to represent each element. The index finger represents the air element while the middle finger represents the ether element. By pressing down into these two elements that deeply affect the nervous system, an overall sense of calmness is achieved which is believed to provide pain relief.


Image: Vata naashak mudra (Hand gesture to control the air element in the body)

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Five simple yoga poses for pain relief

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Vayu naashak mudra (Hand gesture to control air element)

Press down index finger with thumb. Do for each hand. Other instructions as for vata naashak mudra.

Benefits: As above, it helps control the air element that deals with the nervous system, relieving anxiety, hyper vigilance of the mind, and helps to relax it towards pain relief.



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Five simple yoga poses for pain relief

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Yoga nidra (Sleep of yoga)

Lie on your back, legs apart, hands away from the body. Shut eyes. Take the mind over each part of the body, deliberating imagining that you are relaxing it. Do so till your cover the whole body, including parts of the face.

The entire process should take you 10 to 15 minutes at least. Try not to fall off to sleep. Keep the mind engaged with the activity, though for those unused to mediation or yogic focus this may be difficult.

Use a tape if it is difficult to do on your own. Also, do not move any body part while doing this practice, avoiding unnecessary fidgeting. Ensure that there will be no disturbance like phone or door bell ringing, etc for maximum benefit.

Benefit: This is one of the most healing of yogic meditation techniques. It shuts down the chatter of the brain by keeping it focused. This in turn affects the entire nervous system positively and encourages healing by the induced relaxation where the repairing parasympathetic nervous system kicks in.


Image: Yoga nidra (Sleep of yoga)

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Five simple yoga poses for pain relief

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Marjariasana (Cat stretch)

Sit on your fours as shown, palms under shoulders, legs bent at knees. Inhale, arching the spine up, curving it, chin tilted up. Exhaling, lower the chin between collar bones locking it there, drop the spine, roll the stomach in, stiffen both arms and legs consciously.

Hold for a few seconds, breathing normally. This is one round. Release with an exhalation, repeating five to ten times.

Benefits: This is a gentle workout for the entire body, promoting blood circulation that in turn promotes healing. The tense-release movement of the pose rejuvenates blood supply, taking it all corners of the body, including the face, promoting the transport of repairing chemicals and agents. Since it is deeply relaxing, it helps with pain relief.


Image: Marjariasana (Cat stretch)

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