Yoga For Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind & Heal Your Chronic Pain (New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) Paperback – 16 Nov 2009
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"Yoga for Pain Relief" provides accurate, easily understood principles of self-care in a user-friendly format. The book offers professionals immediate activities for clinical adaptation with the best, most up-to-date evidence. The person in pain can celebrate the artful bridging of ancient wisdom with the genius of the author in creating an easy-to-follow, personalized road map that is sure to sustain hope and allow him or her to remember joy! Matthew J. Taylor, PT, Ph.D., RYT, president of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and founder and owner of the Dynamic Systems Rehabilitation Clinic"
About the Author
Kelly McGonigal is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy and Yoga Therapy in Practice. Her writing has been featured in yoga publications nationwide, including Yoga Journal. McGonigal uses yoga to prevent and calm her own chronic pain, as she suffered for years from debilitating headaches. She teaches yoga, psychology, and healthy back classes at Stanford University.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is not really a book suitable for Kindle. The pictures of the exercises do not display well and are often broken in two, or separated from the descriptions that should accompany them. Much better to purchase the book version.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yoga for Pain Relief offers simple strategies from the mind-body approach of yoga to ease pain--both physical and emotional--and to alleviate suffering. In her Introduction, author Kelly McGonigal describes how pain itself is a mind-body experience; she notes that chronic pain in particular is a learned response. Through the regular practice of yoga strategies, including breathing techniques, befriending the body, physical exercises, and relaxation, McGonigal maintains that one can attain greater control over one's mind and body both to increase comfort and to decrease suffering.
McGonigal begins by providing an overview of the pain response. She then introduces some basic ideas from the yogic tradition that will facilitate further discussion of the yoga healing practices. These concepts are very straightforward, such as the importance of the breath and the focus on the experience of inner joy as part of the practice. At this point, McGonigal is ready to begin reviewing some actual healing practices, starting in Chapter 3 with Breath. Throughout the practice segments of the book, there are detailed descriptions of how to perform the various exercises accompanied by clear, helpful black-and-white photos of McGonigal and other models demonstrating the movements. Also, at the end of every yoga practice chapter, McGonigal includes a "Putting it All Together" section which offers suggestions for how to use the exercises/practices in different ways.
The next chapter focuses on Befriending the Body, or moving from a more adversarial relationship with oneself and one's pain to one of compassion and acceptance. For the physical exercises, McGonigal's emphasis is always on healing. She presents gentle asana (held postures) and vinyasa (movements combined with breath), many of which are performed on the floor or can be modified with use of a chair. After introducing a basic pose sequence which can be combined in many different ways, McGonigal moves on to restorative postures. These poses require props to support the body and to allow for a more complete relaxation experience. The final yoga practice chapter focuses on Meditation. As with the previous chapters, McGonigal offers several different options for establishing a meditation practice and explains each in detail.
In the final chapter of the book, McGonigal offers suggestions for developing a personal yoga program. I especially liked her encouragement to establish a "homecoming" practice--that is, choosing just one simple exercise from the book that you will commit to practicing daily. She provides various suggestions for how to incorporate the exercises from the preceding chapters into different types of practices. In addition, McGonigal notes how the short personal vignettes from her students which appear throughout the book offer examples of various yoga rituals. McGonigal concludes the book with a Resources chapter offering information on books, music, DVDs, and other resources for people with pain.
For those who are suffering from chronic pain, this book is an excellent, hopeful resource. McGonigal herself is not only a psychology, yoga, and meditation instructor but also a former chronic pain sufferer. When practiced regularly--perhaps in as little as 15 minutes per day--these easy-to-use, gentle yoga techniques can give you the tools to manage your pain and to reduce your suffering. Dr. McGonigal has written a book that is clear, well-researched, easy-to-understand, and potentially extremely valuable, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
I have been doing the breathing exercises and meditations with my wife, who began suffering from chronic headaches after a concussion this past summer. She wanted to avoid heavy pain medications, and this book was a lifesaver. It helped both with the physical pain and also the depression and anxiety that she felt, having little control over her symptoms. I was happy to be able to work through the book with her -- it helped me better understand what she going through, and gave me concrete ways to help her: by doing breathing exercises together, and reading the meditations out loud to her.
It helps that the book is grounded in scientific research (psychology and physiology) as well as Dr. McGonigal's yoga practice, it makes for a well-grounded book that is both eye-opening and comforting.
Three specific groups of people should read this book - people with chronic pain, practitioners who treat people in pain, and all Yoga teachers. Kelly's expertise and experiences allow her to provide hope and a realistic view that improvements are possible. Her book offers compassionate guidance, and makes it clear that chronic pain is a complex multidimensional problem requiring much more than a recipe approach or modifications of yoga postures. Many of the simple to perform techniques she describes are effectively used in multidisciplinary pain management settings. Even people with severe pain will find some assistance from this guidebook. With over 20% of the North American population reporting chronic pain, there is a huge need for greater understanding of pain self-management and the role Yoga can play in recovery.
I recommend yoga for pain relief to my patients and students for the following reasons:
* The instructions are simple and easy to follow, including powerful breathing, body awareness, relaxation and meditation techniques.
* There are no recipes provided.
* The guidance includes many aspects of Yoga, rather than a biomechanical focus on Yoga postures as physical therapy.
* Her `five guidelines for movements that heal' answer an important question about how to move in the face of ongoing pain.
* The clarity that some techniques are for immediate pain relief and others are for long last benefits.
* The integration of real-person stories to highlight key aspects of recovery from pain.
* Comments such as, "Your goal is create peace of mind even in poses that create strong sensations of stretch or require effort to hold". The same goal of course applies when one is at the edge of increased pain.
Don't be misled by the title of this book. It teaches as much about chronic pain, pain self-management and the current science of pain as it does about Yoga. There is even a citation list for those interested in delving further into the science behind Yoga practices for people in pain.
Like all guide books, you may find the best results by working with a practitioner who understands Yoga and understand chronic pain. If you cannot locate one, don't let that stop you from slowly working through these techniques. Give them enough of your attention and enough practice and they will help you towards less pain, better movement and improved quality of life.
Neil Pearson, MSc, BScPT, BA-BPHE, CYT, RYT500 is a physiotherapist, certified yoga therapist, and Clinical Assistant Professor at University of British Columbia. He is the founding chair of the Pain Science Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, and an active member of Pain BC Society. Neil travels extensively teaching pain science and pain management to health care professionals, yoga teachers and people in pain. His clinical work, in Penticton BC, is exclusively with people with complex pain problems. [...]