From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yoga: More gain, less pain

(Students doing Yoga)
Although many equate yoga with spiritual disciplines, the original meaning of the Sanskrit term was “yoke” (from the root yuj, meaning “to join, to unite, or to attach”).  This could either literally refer to the yoking or harnessing of animals, or could more figuratively refer to the harnessing of resources in order to accomplish something.  Wikipedia gives the figurative example of the term cakra-yoga - which means “applying a splint or similar instrument by means of pulleys (in case of dislocation of the thigh).”

These days, yoga is referred to as a “natural medicinal” that also happens to be “the fastest growing sport in America.  ” reports on some National Institutes for Health (NIH) research concerning the “effects of both yoga and stretching on easing chronic lower back pain.”  The good news:  Both techniques were found to be quite effective for easing this type of pain.  (The sidebar:  Both techniques were found to be equally effective for easing this particular type of pain, which then led to some questions regarding the need for yoga’s additional “mindfulness” component.  However, Shine also reports on a “study on yoga this past year published in the Journal of Pain Research.”  This study indicated that the mindfulness aspect of yoga might be instrumental in assisting practitioners to “detach from their psychological experience of pain.”)

In the introduction to her book Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain, Dr. Kelly McGonigal explains that chronic pain responses can be transformed into chronic healing responses through a yogic retraining of the mind and body.  She claims that you will then no longer have to feel “at the mercy of an unpredictable body.”  Christopher Ken Baxter points out the importance of balancing steadiness (sthira) with comfort (sukha) when working with yoga and chronic pain.  He tells of one student who had long suffered from a bodily injury.  Through correct yogic practice, this student learned to “heighten awareness of himself in order to develop internal guidance, inner strength, and softness in his body.”  

Not in particular physical pain right now? advises that this would be the best time to begin a yoga regimen.  That way - if and when it is most needed - it will already be right there within you.


Copyright November 15, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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