Does any of the following describe your experience?
Headaches, migraines, indigestion, bad breath, gingivitis, anxiety, depression, mood swings, arthritis, stiff joints, achy muscles, chronic fatigue, insomnia, or any other sleep disorders?
Some of it used to describe me. I used to suffer from chronic indigestion, brain fog, anxiety, and insomnia. It had crept into my life so slowly and stayed for so long that I forgot what life was like without these symptoms.
I did my best to cope with substances like caffeine, sleeping pills, sugar, and ibuprofen.
If you’re anything like I was, you know how tempting it can be to rely on these substances. They can seem like the only way to feel better and get yourself through the day.
These “solutions” are anything but, however! For the most part, drugs provide only temporary relief, because they address only the surface symptoms.
If you experience any of the above symptoms on a regular basis and truly want to take care of yourself and live a healthier life, you need to address the root cause.
For the above symptoms, the root cause is most likely chronic inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to defend against cell damage and invaders like viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Some inflammation is necessary to maintain a healthy body.
Sometimes, however, external factors can cause our body’s immune system to go into overdrive, leading to chronic inflammation.
These external factors include poor diet, lack of sleep, an overly sedentary lifestyle, over-exercise, too much stress, and environmental toxin exposure (smoke, mold, heavy metals, etc.).
Chronic inflammation is now known to be the root cause of most diseases and at least a contributing factor to nearly every health condition out there!
So, again, if you truly want to be healthy, you need to look past your symptoms. You need to reduce chronic inflammation in your system.
There are many ways to reduce inflammation, such as eating an anti-inflammatory diet, getting better sleep, and exercising in nature.
The inflammation-reducing method I want to focus on in this article is a form of exercise that’s been around for thousands of years: yoga!
How Does Yoga Help Inflammation?
Yoga has been shown to be a powerful remedy for chronic inflammation in the body by:
- Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
- Improving quality of sleep
- Reducing chronic pain
- Improving digestion
- Detoxing the body
- Improving strength, balance, flexibility, and stamina
- Increasing immune function
- Improving insulin sensitivity
- Decreasing the signaling of inflammatory chemicals
- Improving blood and oxygen flow throughout the body
- Boosting energy, clarity, and focus
- Increasing healthy gray matter in the brain, especially in areas associated with pain modulation
- Reducing pain sensitivity
- Reducing chronic pain
There are many schools and forms of yoga out there, with 84 basic poses and hundreds of variations to choose from. If you’re looking for a natural, healthy way to reduce inflammation, the following four yoga poses are a great place to start!
I have a love/hate relationship with pigeon pose! It’s an amazing pose for opening and stretching the hip flexors, which are often quite tight for me. It can be brutal to sink into the stretch of this pose, but your body will feel amazing when you do!
Pigeon pose also stretches the thighs and muscles in your groin, back, and abs, helping to release tension in all of these areas. It opens the chest, contributes to increased lung capacity, and stimulates most of your internal organs, including the GI tract.
Standing Forward Bend
If you spend hours a day sitting, whether at a desk or on the couch, this is a great pose for you.
The standing forward bend will provide a deep stretch for your hamstrings, calves, butt muscles, hip flexors, and back. As an inversion pose, it will also increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which can help reduce pain and pain sensitivity throughout your whole body.
The deep bend will also reduce stress and fatigue and stimulate your abdominal organs, leading to improved blood flow, detoxification, and better digestion.
A great counterpoint to the standing forward bend, camel pose will open up your chest and shoulders and stretch your quads and abdominal muscles.
The opening stretch of the spine that this pose delivers is perfect for those of you who spend long hours hunched over a desk.
You may want to warm up with a few cat-cow poses before moving right into this pose.
Step into most any beginning yoga class and you will leave well-acquainted with downward-facing dog!
This pose targets the shoulders and backs of the legs and is great at relieving tension in these areas, as well as the upper back.
It also improves digestion and immune system function, and like the standing forward bend, increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
If you experience chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, indigestion, or any other symptoms linked with chronic inflammation, I encourage you to put down the pills and pick up some yoga poses!
Just a few minutes in each of these poses can provide long-lasting relief from chronic pain, stress, and tension. Plus, yoga brings none of the negative side-effects associated with substances like caffeine, sugar, sleeping pills, and prescription drugs.
Don’t worry— you don’t need to start saying “namaste” to everyone or wearing yoga pants everywhere you go!
Just slip into these poses at least once a day and your body and mind will be thanking you profusely in no time.