Yoga Nidra can be a great addition to the toolkit of the chronic pain sufferer. Keep reading to learn why. Use the video below for a FREE taster practice.
Fist of all, I would like to distinguish between acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is usually caused by tissue damage or a specific injury; when the cause is addressed the pain should subside between a few days or weeks. Chronic pain is more complex and is usually defined as pain that last for 3 months of longer. Sometimes we might know the cause of the pain, sometimes we don’t.
Our psychological wellbeing also impacts chronic pain; this is why the approach to chronic pain must be holistic.
How does pain work?
The pain we feel is not felt directly in the tissues. Our body is full of nerve endings, these nerves act as receptors. When our bodies are injured or damaged, they release chemicals called prostaglandins. When prostaglandin is release, the nerve endings pick it up and transmit the pain though the nervous system to the brain. It’s the brain the recognises the nerve impulse as danger.
This is pretty straightforward when relating to acute pain and obvious tissue damage. But what about when the pain becomes chronic?
There is a system where the brain sends signals back down communicating with the body that there is no pain to be felt. In the case of chronic pain, there calming sensations do not seem to work. Your pain sensitivity become higher and higher, in a loop where pain produces even more pain.
Does it mean that your chronic pain is just in you head? This used to be belief for many years. However, things have changed. While it is true that pain is perceived in the brain; new research shows how chronic pain might be influenced by the immune system, whereby proteins called cytokines get released, giving people symptoms associated with chronic pain (i.e. poor sleep, anxiety, fatigue etc).
For an easy explainations of different types of pain, click here.
So.. How can Yoga Nidra help my chronic pain?
Since pain is extremely influenced by our perceptions and our nervous system as well as our immune system, when we feel safe and less stressed our pain response might decrease. It is also possible that by releasing some tension we might also decrease pain.
More practices you can add to your toolkit: