How do yoga, yoga therapy and meditation work to address pain?
Through breath-centered meditation and movement meditation, or yoga “asana” postures, the vagus nerve can be toned and the parasympathetic relaxation response can be turned on. It’s commonly said that there’s a “smoothing out” that happens when breath is focused on the places where pain is experienced. The phrase “send your breath to your knee” refers to the act of sending the energy, expansiveness and calm that can create that smoothing effect. It’s all because of the power of the mind, which doesn’t necessarily take away the actual pain but gives the person a different relationship to the pain by putting some space between them and the sensation.
PAIN has an element of blank; / It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were / A day when it was not.
It has no future but itself, / Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive / New periods of pain.
Pain is a chronic condition shared by 100 million Americans; it’s the leading reason people go to doctors in the U.S., costing the nation upwards of $635 billion a year—more than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
WebMD explains how vast and amorphous the condition can be, saying, “Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating…the signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for months or even years.” Sometimes the cause is known, or eventually discovered; sometimes the source remains a mystery.
It’s early on a Sunday morning, but the lobby at Bryn Mawr Hospital’s Newtown Square facility is already abuzz. The space is teeming with women in stylish athleisure-wear; banquet tables are adorned with balloons and centerpieces. As guests make their way to their assigned seats, only the number of heads that remain fully covered by knit caps and scarves reveal that this is no ordinary Main Line brunch affair—this Wellness Day event is hosted by Unite for HER, a cutting-edge women’s health organization, and the attendees are Philadelphia-area women that have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The “HER” stands for Healing to Empower and Restore, and Wellness Days are one of the organization’s signature programs. This interactive, one-day workshop will introduce these women to the range of services and education that will be provided to them over the next year through their fully-funded “wellness passports”.
Natassia Levine of Open Center Yoga will guide students in a week of daily yoga practice, guided meditation, gourmet vegetarian food and inward reflection at Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, in Bali, from May 15 through May 20. Rates include twice daily yoga, one workshop, a group temple tour and three gourmet, vegetarian meals per day, with organic tea, coffee and juice options.
A Yoga Alliance-certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher, Levine describes the retreat as an opportunity to meet new faces, deepen one’s practice and recharge the soul. Students will begin each morning with yoga and meditation on the outdoor yoga deck. A relaxed itinerary will allow for spending the day freely, whether that entails swimming in a nearby waterfall, reflecting in a rice paddy or taking advantage of the Eco Lodge’s many options for self-care and personal enrichment, which are available for an additional cost.
by Karen L. Smith, Rebecca Antsis and Karen G. Meshkov
Life is not without its ups and downs. At some point in the journey, we will likely be presented with circumstances that upset our mood and behavior. Though many tools and resources are available that can help us on our path to optimal mental health, the first challenge is figuring out what kind of help we need, and where we can get it.
As an advocate of integrative, holistic and complementary approaches to healing, Natural Awakenings offers this guide as our attempt to survey the contemporary healing landscape and raise awareness of the myriad resources available to those seeking inroads to a more emotionally healthy, happy and balanced life.
Chalfont Yoga and Meditation Center will offer a couple of new workshops and classes in the coming weeks. The first workshop, Get Out of Pain and Back Into Your Life, will focus on relieving pain with yoga techniques, and will be held from 3:30 to 6 p.m., October 13. Next month, the center will offer Learn to Meditate, a three-class series, from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. on Monday evenings, November 3, 10 and 17. Continue reading →
As part of its grand opening celebration, Chalfont Yoga and Meditation Center is inviting members of the community to try a free yoga class during the month of August. During this free class, participants will learn yoga techniques to relieve stress, tension and pain and enjoy the new studio.
Valarie and Ian Haag of Rainbows of Healing, in Langhorne, will present Crystal Journeying through the Chakras, a seven-part series, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on October 18th and continuing the next six Fridays through December 6th. This series is designed for those who wish to deepen their spiritual path through the practice of activating, opening and unblocking the chakras with the power of vibrational sound, while learning more about how to integrate crystals in healing. Continue reading →