Whether it’s headaches, lower back pain, stress or neck pain, some classic, easy yoga poses can bring relief and can further help those suffering insomnia. We show you three poses that can bring a certain degree of almost instant relief.
Academic and scientifically controlled experiments show time and time again that there is a powerful mind-body connection when it comes to pain relief, and a 2011 study conducted by the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York and the Hull York Medical School in the UK shows that the ancient practice of yoga is a tried-and-true method of effective pain relief.
Supported Standing Wide Leg Forward Bend
This Iyengar inversion helps send blood to the head, which in turn helps combat insomnia. A lack of sleep can make pain even worse, so getting a good night’s rest is the first step to getting some pain relief. If you have high blood pressure or suffer from glaucoma, do not use inverted poses such as this one.
Put a stack of books or a block in front of you on the floor or on your yoga mat. Stand with your feet about four feet apart, with your toes pointed slightly inwards and your hands on your hips. Focus on your breathing, taking a deep breath and exhaling. Bend forward, and with your fingers spread out, put your hands on the floor about shoulder width apart. Gently stretch your spine forward, and rest the crown of your head on the block or stack of books in a way that your head and neck are supported. Pull your shoulders away from your ears, and bring your elbows in towards your body. If your hamstrings feel like they are pulling, widen your stance and make your book stack or block higher. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing; breathing should be slow and through your nose, not your mouth. Hold the pose up to a maximum of five minutes, then take your time to come out of the pose; don’t make any rapid movements.
Legs up the Wall
This pose is one that can give a person almost instant headache pain relief. This position is specifically targeted for relaxing and can gently stretch your neck muscles; the same muscles that can cause headaches.
With your right hip or left hip touching a wall, sit on a yoga mat or blanket, then lean back and turn to lie down flat. Stretch your legs upwards against the wall, and ensure that your buttocks are touching the wall and that your legs are not apart. Your hands should be on your abdomen or placed above your head. Drop your chin a slight extent, close your eyes, and focus on deep, slow breathing for a minimum of three minutes and a maximum of ten.
The Reclined Twist
This is a move that is great for lower back pain relief; pain alleviation can be almost immediate and future problems can be avoided.
Lie face-up on a yoga mat or blanket, and bend your knees towards your chest. With knees together and bent, lower both knees to the left side, holding your knees in place with your left hand. Gently twist to the right, and extend your right arm out to the right. Look towards the fingers on your right hand, and hold the position for a minimum of 20 seconds, remembering to breathe deeply and slowly. Bring your hands and knees back to the centre, and repeat the entire process on the other side. The stretch can be repeated up to three times for each side.
Remember, if you experience anything more than mild discomfort when stretching, don't persist as you don't want to cause injury or exacerbate any existing condition.