Pain is the body sending a message to pay attention; a sign that the body is in need of some TLC. Learning new techniques to breathe and to find expansion in the area of the body that is experiencing pain is a great method for directing conscious awareness to the body part that is sending out a message and releasing the held tension.
It is liberating to learn we have the ability to lessen our pain without any equipment or intervention from another person and to know we always have the tools we need to tap into whenever we need them. There are countless positive benefits of deep and directed breathwork, and no negative side effects, as long as the breathwork is being practiced in a safe way.
One comfortable way to grow familiar with breathwork could be through yoga and incorporating pranayama into your practice. Yoga helps one to move through any physical or emotional and energetic blockages in the body that may manifest as chronic pain.
When experiencing pain for a short or extended period of time, the body moves into a state of fight or flight. And if you add in the challenges of modern living, it can be difficult to downshift out of this state when you are handling a lot of stress. Breathing is the purest and simplest way to access the parasympathetic nervous system, which the body must be able to access to heal.
Cultivating a practice of your own that helps you notice where your breath is moving freely and where it is restricted is a powerful method to deepen your body consciousness and to work to relieve pain and invite more vitality to the body.
Taking time with yourself and with your breath is an empowering practice. It can reshape the way in which you approach your pain management and can encourage your healing.
A Self-Healing Practice
Find a comfortable position lying down
Find an even and comfortable breathe to settle in
Set an intention
Take a minute or two to scan your body from head to toe, mentally noting any areas of comfort and discomfort
Examine the quality of the discomfort
Choose an area of discomfort to focus on and support with the breath
Bring one hand to the area, if accessible, and continue to breathe through your nose
Allow yourself to notice the discomfort as your inhale
Soften the body on the exhale
Begin to legenthen your exhale by one to two counts
Repeat this until the pain has lessened, or for five minutes or longer
Notice any changes that occur in the body and in the area that is tense
When finished, release your hand and rest in a comfortable position, returning to your even, neutral breath
Transition slowly from lying down to seated and close your practice
Allow any emotions or feelings that arise to be fully expressed and continue to breathe until you start to feel relief.
Breathing exercise adapted from 25 Simple Practices for Calm, Joy and Resilience by Ashley Neese
Suggested Pranayama Practices to Try:
- Yoga with Adriene, Pranayama Potion
“Tend to your inner world to tend to your outer world”
“A way to calm the nervous system and relieve tension and anxiety. Great for concentration, cleansing and a fantastic headache cure.”