Painful experiences (both physical and emotional) can wreak havoc in our lives. And, to make it even worse? Their lingering effects can live on inside our cell tissue for years. These painful (literally and figuratively) memories lay hidden in our shoulders, hamstrings, hips, etc.

Yoga, at its core, was created to reduce suffering. And, when we go through our asanas, it's possible to release these stuck emotions and painful conditions.

Yoga for Pain Management

Yogic breathing, meditation, and relaxation are excellent techniques for pain management, whether it's emotional or physical. Together, these three yoga principles help distract the mind from pain, decrease the body’s level of tension in reaction to pain, and gives us an opportunity to move through the pain instead of resisting it. This helps to reduce the full impact of the pain so that we can lead relatively normal lives.

Part 1: Emotional Pain

When dealing with emotional pain, taking a purely intellectual or mental approach isn't always effective. How do you decipher the meaning of a feeling if you have no idea where it’s stemming from?

On a biological level, our feelings stem from changes in hormone levels and the pattern of nerve firings in our nervous system. These physiological shifts can last long after the troubling experience that triggered them in the first place. And, after a time, the mind-body system begins to reflect this negative emotional history.

Yoga helps the body release the emotional toxicity that builds up within it. Just like changing thought patterns are able to influence our lives, twisting and turning the body can help facilitate emotional release.

When you stretch your muscles and expand your range of motion, it's possible to access places in the body that trap emotional pain. Yoga (meditation, breathing practices, and poses) help release this tension and free the flow of prana, a vital life force energy.

Poses To Help Unlock Your Emotions

When we ignore our emotional pain, it can cause internal conflict and stress. The following asanas can help you unlock and process your emotions:

Pigeon Pose

Many of us tend to hold tension in our hips. Pigeon pose is a wonderful hip opener that can help release tension in the lower back. And because it engages the sacral chakra, it helps connects us to our creativity, relationships, and emotions.

Wheel Pose

This pose awakens the heart chakra and is a great way to get in touch with the vulnerable side, especially for someone looking for a new perspective on life. It’s is also helpful for those suffering from a broken heart because it encourages the practitioner to fill his or her vessel with appreciation, gratitude, and love.

Supported Corpse Pose

This pose relieves stress and encourages the cultivation of a peaceful mind. It also gives you time to turn your practice inward so you can freely experience acceptance and gratitude.

Part 2: Physical Pain

When looking for an alternative to pain pills (for joint issues and other common aches), relief might just be a yoga class away. In a review of two decades worth of studies done by researchers at the Duke University Medical Center, it was found that yoga was an effective treatment for chronic pain issues like fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and osteoarthritis.

In these studies, patients saw a significant decrease in muscle stiffness, joint pain, and overall physical discomfort. Furthermore, they were able to dramatically increase their range of motion, flexibility, and muscle strength.

Pain Relieving Poses

When done properly, the fluidity of yogic movement gives swollen and/or painful joints the opportunity to increase strength and mobility, without undue wear and tear. This makes yoga a safe alternative to weight-bearing exercises which can cause more harm to already weak joints. Some great pain-relieving poses include:

Triangle Pose

This gentle open twist is perfect for those suffering from chronic back pain and stress. It helps open the front body, create space, and increase blood flow to the internal organs, which helps with digestion. Furthermore, because it is a balancing pose, it helps build concentration.

Dolphin Pose

This pose stretches the entire body at once, which makes it great for relieving some of the body stiffness commonly associated with painful conditions like fibromyalgia. It also improves the strength of the upper body, shoulder, and core muscles.

Tips for a Better Practice

During your yoga practice, it’s important to listen to your body, especially when dealing with pain. Your body will tell you what it needs and what should be avoided. For instance, if a pose causes pain, it's time for you to stop. Your body gains no benefit from you pushing through the pain. Additional ways to make your practice better include:
● Make sure that you have a yoga belt, blanket, mat, and a block nearby. These props will provide your body with the support it needs so you don’t strain your muscles.
● Yoga clothing can make the difference between a great yoga session and a horrible one. Buy form-fitting clothes that won't get in your way so you can place your focus on what's really important - your practice.
● When starting out, hold each pose for about 20-30 seconds. Make sure you breathe fully and take even breaths.
● Although it's possible to feel yoga's healing effects yoga after just one session, practicing on a regular basis is the only way to experience its full benefits.
● Poses can be modified to accommodate your experience, strength, and/or any health conditions you may suffer from. For instance, people who suffer from multiple sclerosis can do yoga in a chair instead of on the floor.

Yoga is an excellent option for the effective management of both physical and emotional pain. And, the poses listed above (among others) can mean the difference between a life filled with pain and one where it’s easily manageable. Use then in good health. Namaste.

Author's Bio: 

Sophia Moore is a passionate writer and a blogger leading her own blog at She started freelancing as a way to connect to other people, to reach to their hearts and make a difference with her word. The blog was born out of a pure desire to connect… to have the freedom of writing what really matters, what actually makes a difference.