Using Yoga as therapy, first of all, is of great use to relieve pain.
Yoga is a holistic method of treating the whole person and pain is also a mind-body experience which can be demonstrated by the following research:
- Emotions can increase pain in the body (McGonigal, 2009)
- Mindful self-compassion has been shown to decrease pain (McGonigal, 2009).
- MRI scans that feelings of loneliness and rejection occur in the same section of the brain (McGonigal, 2009)
- The body and brain can suppress the experience of pain by the hormones released from physical activity such as Yoga (McGonigal, 2009).
Because we know pain is a mind/body experience, this means that if we can take better care of our thoughts through mindful attention and breathing exercises, then pain can be controlled.
Pain is a ‘learned over-protective mind-body response’ which is based in the ‘fight, flight and fear’ response of the brain to protect the body from future suffering. Ergo, the body becomes highly sensitised to the threat of pain.
Pain is also associated with the inflammatory response of the body which can be heightened by stress. This can be mitigated by Yoga breathing and relaxation techniques. Yoga re-wires the brain’s reactive response to pain.
Stress can have a significant impact on mental performance, ergo, Yoga can help to stimulate the mind. When stress predominates due to environmental factors, there is a fight or flight fear response to threats which can result in more reactive spontaneous behaviour types – our minds become blank!
The part of the brain associated with flight, fight, or fear, when stressed, takes over our thinking part of the brain, thus affecting how we moderate our behaviour, our ability to plan, and an awareness of how our behaviour affects those around us.
Furthermore, the part of the brain associated with memory, is also affected by stress. As a result, learning and memory are seriously impaired. However, it has been found that deep exhalations and attention focusing Mindful exercises, of which is part of Yoga, can reduce the stress response.
Prolonged chronic stress also affects weight-management. When we are stressed, we are more likely to overeat because our blood sugar drops and we tend to crave more fatty and sugary foods. Yoga reduces stress by activating the relaxation response especially as part of sustained regular lifestyle changes including those types of practices considered deeply relaxing, such as restorative yoga.
Diament (2011) Obesity More Common Among Kids With Special Needs Available (online) at: <https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2011/12/07/obesity-special-needs/14599/.> Accessed 31st of August, 2018
Goldberg, L (2013) Yoga Therapy for Children with Autism and Special Needs. Norton.
McGonigal, K (2009). Yoga For Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind & Heal Your Chronic Pain. New Harbinger
Araneta M, et al (2013) Overall and regional fat change: results from the Practice of Restorative Yoga or Stretching for Metabolic Syndrome study. 73rd Scientific Session of the American Diabetes Association, Chicago.
Rioux. J (2013). Narrative Review of Yoga Intervention Clinical Trials Including Weight-related Outcomes. Available (online) at: < http://www.alternative-therapies.com/openaccess/ATHM_19-3_Rioux.pdf> Accessed 28th of August, 2018
Cuncic, A. (2018) What Happens During an Amygdala Hijack. Available (online) at: <https://www.verywellmind.com/what-happens-during-an-amygdala-hijack-4165944> Accessed 28th of August, 2018