Chronic Pain

Many types of pain respond well to gentle movement, which can include yoga poses (asana). Research shows that fibromyalgia and arthritis are among the painful and potentially debilitating conditions that can be helped by moderate physical exercise. Yogic breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation, and other tools can also change people’s relationship to pain and the way they experience it.

Pain that lasts 3 months or more—well beyond the time most injuries take to “heal”—is usually considered to be chronic. Chronic pain, including low-back pain, results from the interaction of many causes. This complexity makes it difficult to treat and is one factor behind the opioid crisis in the United States and elsewhere.

The American College of Physicians now recommends yoga and other alternatives to prescription drugs for chronic low-back pain, saying that opioids and more invasive treatments should be used only after other approaches have failed. A number of other key organizations, including the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health, agree and have laid out their position in resources such as Moving Beyond Medications.