How to Find Pain Relief through Yoga

By Linsey Birusingh

When you’re in pain, it consumes your life. Whether it’s a fairly new annoyance or chronic pain that has haunted you for years, the overwhelming and constant sensation distracts you from enjoying the rest of your life. Even if it feels like it will never end, keep your mind open to this good news…

I’ve seen people with fibromyalgia reduce their pain and increase their enjoyment of life through mindful movement. I’ve experienced a nagging back pain that goes away with the right yoga stretch. I’ve been with many students as we tailor a practice to their specific recovery, and watched it actually work. Studies show mounting evidence that my experiences aren’t isolated; yoga is perfect for pain relief. In fact, many doctors now advise patients take yoga as a low-risk therapy for many pain-related afflictions, as well as to prevent the pain a degenerating body may bring.

This is what Harvard has to say: “Yoga can help people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, low back pain, and many other types of chronic pain conditions. A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that among 313 people with chronic low back pain, a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care for the condition.”

So how exactly does yoga help? To begin, whole body movements like a sun salutation promote healthier connective tissues and easier glide between them. When the tissues (or what we call fascia) are hydrated and conditioned to move more freely, we find less sticky “velcro” adhering them together.  This velcro pinches nerves and prevents proper blood flow and oxygenation. By simply maintaining the fascia’s freedom to move, we help decrease signals the brain could interpret as pain from forming in the body.

Whole-body movements like those we do in vinyasa or power yoga also create better glide through thixotropy, a fancy word that means the fluids in your body actually become less sticky and gel-like when you move. Have you ever felt stiff waking up in the morning, and better as you moved (literally) about your day? As these fluids become more watery and malleable, you move with more ease. But you must find movement regularly to maintain this ease. You must also stay hydrated, as that water-like flow we want in our movements is only possible when the water element is present.

Awareness is also an important part of pain relief. Do you pay more attention to the places in your body that feel icky or painful than those that feel good? We all do. Those noisy signals mean something needs cared for, and they beg for our attention so we will take action to bring ourselves back into balance. But it is just as important to be aware of the places within you that feel good or even neutral. Newer science says being present with the places that feel good or or benign takes your brain’s attention into a more positive space and away from signals you could interpret as pain. While you practice yoga, bring a curious awareness: what feels good here? What feels neutral or quiet? What is already working well?

When looking for specific postures or sequences to help with your pain, consider this: it’s not always the squeaky wheel that needs the grease. It could be that your cranky low back is simply overworked, compensating for a tightness or weakness in its opposing muscle group. For years I believed my lower right back needed stretched. It spasmed and whined constantly. I focused on rag doll and other forward folds as well as twists to elongate the muscles. But it did not help. Through trial, error and education, I eventually learned it was a tight hip flexor on my front side that needed released to rid my back of dis-ease. I focused on supported bridge with savasana legs and other hip flexor openers. My back pain left and never returned.

Practicing yoga regularly, with compassion, is key. We cannot make inroads if we do not do the discipline. Treat your body with reverence. Ask your yoga teacher for recommendations and modifications. If they do not know how to accommodate your specific issue, they may be able to quarterback you to someone with more expertise. But always keep hope that your pain can be managed. As we learn in yoga and in life, nothing lasts forever…and that also goes for that pesky pain.

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Built with 🤍 by Blink Wellness

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About Kirk: 

Kirk was working 80-hour weeks and wearing his shoulders as earrings when he found yoga in 2005. Forever the competitive athlete, he loved the physicality of yoga. When the spiritual and philosophical side of yoga were exposed to him, Kirk was hooked. Yoga provided him with what other activities couldn’t -- the ability to foster the benefits of practice both on and off of the mat. Yoga was something that Kirk could bring into all aspects of his life. 

Kirk knows that yoga can be intimidating, so he crafts a class that is playful and inviting, while still being challenging and safe. His creatively planned classes build strength and flexibility in your body and mind while establishing clarity, giving you more confidence to overcome obstacles in your life, and keeping you injury-free. His classes are themed with a message that is relatable and will inspire you to take it with you off your mat. Kirk has been teaching yoga since 2008 and lead his first teacher training in 2012. Where Kirk truly shines is in coaching, developing and bringing out the best in others.  

Kirk enjoys traveling (40+ countries to date!), snowboarding, and cherishes time with his wife and two daughters. 

About Christen: 

Christen Bakken’s yoga journey began in 1998 in a Bikram studio that provided a safe and secure place to practice. She saw the yoga mat as a place to remember her purpose and a place to play. As she continued her studies and began her journey to teaching in 2006, Christen infused yoga classes with devotion and the yoga mat became a place of personal transformation and healing. Her classes are filled with laughter, song, sweat, and usually heart openers. In 2013, Christen began training yoga teachers. This is the place where she finds the most joy - in community with folks looking to grow and be of greater service in their homes, on their mats, and in the world. Over the years, she has led trainings in Denver, the Midwest, Florida, and now abroad. She has trained in continuing education modules, 200-hour, 300-hour, and 500-hour programs. Beyond the mat, Christen is a passionate adventure seeker - she loves to bike, snowboard, and spend time with her husband and pups. She sees each day as a blessing and hopes to remind all who interact with her of this truth.  

Two Light Studio Parking Information

We validate parking for THREE garages in the area!

  • Two Light garage located directly north of the studio. Please bring your ticket inside for validation.

  • Three Light garage at Main and Truman. Garage entrance on Truman. Please bring your ticket inside for a validation sticker.

  • Power & Light garage at 13th and Grand. Please ask for a parking pass at the studio front desk. (Hot tip: the Power & Light garage has a ton of space! But be sure to give yourself a little extra time to walk to the studio.)

If you find that you are running a couple minutes late due to parking, please call the studio to let the instructor know to wait for you before locking the doors.

Blackstone Studio Parking

  • We have partnered with our friends at Greenslate to provide 1 hour and 15 minute validated parking for Power Life students in the lot at 36th and Harney (just south of the Cottonwood Hotel). Read below to learn how to take advantage of this perk:

    • Step 1: Scan the QR code located in the lot.

    • Step 2: Select your destination (i.e. “yoga studio”).

    • Step 3: Ask for the validation code at the Blackstone studio front desk and enter it on your phone.

    • Step 4: You are all set! Have fun at class!

    Please note:

    • The validation provided by Power Life and Greenslate is for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Need to add additional time to your parking space? You can do that conveniently from your phone!

    • This option is valid once per day per license plate.

    • Please do NOT park in the Crescent Moon lot − you will be towed!

East Village Studio Amenities

  • There is a paved lot and gravel lot on the West side of the building.

  • Meters on Court and 4th (by Peace Tree) for $0.25/hour, 9am-9pm Mon. – Sat. 12-hour max

  • Meters on 4th (to the North) for $1.25/hour. Mon – Sat. 4-hour max.

  • All meters are free on Sundays and major holidays.

How to Find Pain Relief through Yoga Info