If you haven’t already experienced the soothing powers of yoga firsthand, there’s ample evidence to support adding the practice to your pain-fighting arsenal.

Neck pain

Meditation may be the answer to easing recurring or chronic neck pain, a 2o15 study in The Journal of Pain 
suggests. Researchers found that a majority of study 
participants who experienced chronic neck pain reported 
a significant reduction in pain and pain-related complaints after eight weeks of jyoti meditation practice, 
a traditional Indian meditation technique involving the repetition of mantras and focus on the third eye.

“Chronic pain is frequently associated with distress, and neck pain specifically is related to high levels of stress,” says Andreas Michalsen, M.D., one of the study researchers and a professor at Charité University Berlin. He hypothesizes that any of a variety of meditation forms shown to relieve stress, including mindfulness meditation, could offer similar benefits for pain relief by modulating neurobiological pain signals and pathways in the brain.

In other words, meditation essentially eliminates the suffering related to pain.

Chronic pain

Combining the mindful practice of yoga and meditation with traditional medical treatment can help chronic pain sufferers find more relief than medicine alone, according to research conducted by 
Patrick Randolph, Ph.D., at Texas Tech University. His study followed 78 patients with chronic pain, which unlike acute pain, is often not associated with a particular injury and can come and go over months or even years with no pattern. In addition to whatever medical treatment they were undergoing before, during, and after the study, the participants attended several cycles of two-hour classes that used gentle poses with an emphasis on mindfulness. They were also required to meditate for a minimum of 45 minutes per day, six days per week, with the aid of an audiocassette tape. Afterward, 79 percent said their condition somewhat or greatly improved.

“Most people who experience chronic pain also experience depression or anxiety,” says Randolph, former director of psychological services at the International Pain Institute at Texas Tech University’s Health and Science Center. “So when we treat chronic pain, we need to treat both the body and the mind at the same time.”

Read the full story in the latest issue of Yoga Journal.  We explore eight types of pain and how they might benefit from enlisting your yoga mat or meditation cushion, all backed by science. Latest issue on sale now at all Coles supermarket or subscribe to receive our latest offer of buy one year and get two more issues free.