Over the last month and half I have writing about pain science research to help us broaden our scope of understanding pain and how we can begin to heal ourselves. Today’s review comes from a talk by yoga therapist Matthew Taylor from the United States. He teaches from the perspective of the Biopsychosocial model. This brings all the parts together to make a whole. For example, if you roll your ankle, you experience pain physiologically in the sympathetic nervous system, but also psychologically, your active mind is upset that your weekend plans got ruined and you feel unsupported spiritually. This means we can’t look at the ankle in isolation. When we look through different lenses we help the mind shift perspectives.
Yoga is the science of transformation. Through yoga we seek to shift our state into the parasympathetic nervous system and by doing so we unlock creativity, clarity and calm. Simply taking 3 sets of 10 deep breaths for a given movement (such as during a yoga pose) shifts the nervous system and turns the solution seeking inward rather than outward.
Yoga asana (the poses) is a process of the how, no the what. In yoga we use attention as a tool to notice how you feel and to gain insight.
Applications for persistent pain: Most people with persistent pain don’t trust their body because the pain is in the body. Try some of these suggestions from Matthew:
- Explore your identity around pain.
- Pain education and language. When we say “the damn knee” we are talking about it as something other but it’s actually you. 20 minute of pain education can help us to reduce our pain.
- Legs up the wall with weight on the belly can create a SIM situation.
- Build stamina around hope = possibility.
- Have compassion for yourself.
- Social media diet – content can raise sympathetic nervous system activation.
Your body is a barometer. Try the Breath test – our breath tells us if something was wise idea. Compare before and after. Fast/shallow breathing is a system in danger (DIM). Think back to the Protectometer. If your breath is long and deep and even you likely feel safe, calm and relaxed.
Salience and interest drives neuroplasticity. Want a stable enough nervous system to non-react to pokes/prodes without looping back into old patterns? A stabilized nervous system lasts 24 hours. So when you practice yoga therapy every day with awareness and attention the results might surprise and shock you. We are complex, we can’t predict anything and we are always changing.
Next week will be the final post on Pain and Healing. See you then.