Yoga for Chronic Pain Relief – Gentle Poses and Breathing Techniques

Chronic pain

Persistent pain that lasts longer than expected to recover is referred to as chronic pain. Acute pain may last for several weeks, months, or even years. Several things, such as wounds, inflammation, nerve damage, and other diseases, may cause chronic pain. Arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, and chronic back pain are some of the common disorders. Mild beginner-level yoga for chronic pain helps to reduce stiffness and tension in the muscles.

Being in chronic pain can make daily movement difficult, which can reduce the range of motion and flexibility. The degree to which pain interferes with everyday living also decreases the quality of life. People who practice yoga may perceive the discomfort as being less intense than it was previously.  It also encourages a positive mindset and makes daily discomfort easier to manage. The ability of yoga to facilitate the management of pain is among its most significant advantages. Mild beginner-level yoga for chronic pain helps to reduce stiffness and tension in the muscles. 


What Causes Chronic Pain

Pain is an unpleasant emotional and sensory experience that is linked to tissue damage. According to research, there are three types of pain based on its causal factors.

Nociceptive pain is what you experience when you cut your finger or place your hand on a hot cup. An electrical impulse is sent by a sensory neuron to the spinal cord and then to the brain, where it is perceived as pain. An infection or tissue damage causes inflammation and pain, which triggers the immune system. These two kinds of pain are both defensive.

Pathological pain, the third category, is not preventive and frequently stems from injury to the peripheral nerve. Sometimes, neuropathy causes nerves to fire on their own, causing pain to be felt even in the absence of external stimulation.


Effect of Chronic Pain

One of the most crucial things to deal with is pain perception. Studies show there are two main parts to how we perceive pain. One is a sensory component in which the skin’s nociceptors are activated by harmful stimuli, which might be anything from a bee sting to bumping your toe into a table. Alternatively, suppose the stimulus originates from within the body. In that case, it may activate receptors in the injured organ or region, resulting in electrical impulses that ascend to the brain via the spinal cord first. 

The brain interprets pain as something unpleasant or as suffering, which is the second aspect of pain, which is emotional and cognitive. Emotional pain can be a very complex experience. A person’s capacity to work, participate in routine activities, and preserve social connections can all be adversely affected due to chronic pain. It affects the sleep, appetite, and energy levels of the individual. Fear of dependency may also lead to feelings of helplessness and worry. 


Yoga For Chronic Pain Relief

Practicing 10 to 20 minutes of yoga daily will help promote blood circulation and improve correct posture.


Yoga Poses for Chronic Back Pain


Downward dog

Downward dog pose - Yoga for chonic pain

The pelvis and lower back are strengthened by the internal rotation of the hip flexors and the forward extension of the spine. This position lengthens the muscles in the mid and upper back. 


Cat and cow stretch

Cat and cow pose for chronic back pain

The cat stretch relieves stress in the upper back and neck, and the cow stretch works the tailbone, which is the root of the spine. This mild yoga for chronic back pain reduces stiffness from the hips and lower back.


Cobra stretch


During the Cobra stretch The muscles of the shoulders, middle back, lower back, and glutes, are contracted to aid in the backbend. The mild back bend releases the tension in the muscles of the upper, mid, and lower back.


Bridge posture

Bridge pose - yoga pose for chronic pain relief

The bridge pose expands the chest cavity which expands the diaphragm leading to steady breath. It also extends the spine and its skeletal muscles. The hip flexors, neck, and chest are all stretched in this position.


Yoga Poses for Chronic Knee Pain 


Yoga Poses for Chronic Knee Pain (Lunge )

Tight quadriceps may put pressure on the knee joints. High lunge and low lunge help to strengthen the quadriceps and the inner thigh muscles. 


Chair pose
Chair pose

The chair pose is a mild stretch of the knees, which supports the more minor muscles of the knee joints. 


Garland pose

Garland pose

This squatting position strengthens the lower back, legs, knees, and ankles while stretching the hips, groins, inside thighs, and ankles.


Warrior 1

Warrior 1

By bending the knee and firmly planting the foot on the floor, a deep stretch is achieved at the hamstring muscles, which greatly opens up the upper thighs and results in strong knees, ankles, and feet.


Yoga Poses for Chronic Sciatica Pain

The sciatica pain starts from the lower back and passes through the buttock down the back of the legs. 


Pigeon pose

Pigeon pose - yoga for chronic pain

Stretches the lower back, hip flexors, quadriceps, and pelvic muscles which open the hip and strengthen the legs.


Triangle pose

Triangle pose

The thighs, knees, hips, groin, and hamstrings, are all stretched and strengthened in the triangle pose which reduces the sciatica nerve pain.


Locust pose

Locust pose

It supports the lower back muscles and knees. The entire stretch improves muscle flexibility which relieves the sharp pain of sciatica. 


Wind releasing pose

Wind releasing pose

As the thighs are pressed against the abdomen, it strengthens the lower back and lumbar spine which addresses lower back pain conditions.

Read more about yoga for sciatica pain



Yoga positions may be adjusted to accommodate different demands and skill levels. The following are some typical modifications for yoga poses:


One may use blankets, bolsters, blocks, straps, and chairs as props to help with accessibility or to offer support during a posture. Chair yoga for chronic pain is beneficial for people who may struggle with balance or mobility. 


Modest changes to how body parts are aligned can significantly impact. Although adjustments can be made based on individual requirements, yoga instructors frequently offer suggestions for appropriate posture.

Restorative poses

Restorative postures are gentle yoga poses combined with mindful breathing to induce therapeutic relaxation. Asanas can be customized to suit individual physical strength, experience, and health status. For instance, if a particular pose is difficult, there can be other poses that work on the same muscles.


Breathing Exercises for Chronic Pain 

The body scan meditation or the traditional yoga nidra practice may help the individual perceive pain differently if they observe their body with awareness. Being mindful incorporates acceptance, which promotes recognizing the pain without resistance, which can reduce the impact. 

Begin in any comfortable pose, lying down or sitting down. Put your hands on the abdomen and observe the rise and fall of your abdomen with every inhalation and exhalation. This is called diaphragmatic breathing. Take a deep breath as you imagine the painful spot, and release the tension as you exhale. Breathe into the painful location for a few breaths, then into another area for a few more. 

A holistic approach that incorporates physical movement and relaxation techniques can contribute to a more well-rounded management of pain. Individuals with chronic pain need to work with healthcare professionals, including yoga instructors, to practice according to their specific needs and limitations.