I love yoga and have been practicing for more than 12 years.  Yoga has so many benefits including strengthening, flexibility, pain reduction and relaxation.   In yoga, we practice something called diaphragmatic breathing which can be practiced by everyone.  This type of breathing can really help to reduce pain, whether it’s chronic, acute or post-surgical pain.

 Diaphragmatic breathing activates the parasympathetic system which is our relaxation response system. It can help keep you calm and alleviate the anxious, heightened state that comes from pain.  Once you can level off the nervous system, it not only reduces your pain but creates a friendlier environment for healing.

You can try this breathing anywhere but it’s important to be in a quiet environment and in a comfortable position.

Here are some tips to breath properly for relaxation and pain reduction:

  1. Get in a comfortable position --either sitting or lying on your back are good options.
  2. Close your eyes and start to focus on your breathe.
  3. Your goal is to slowly lengthen your breath, inhaling for 5 seconds, and exhaling for 5 seconds.
  4. Completely fill your lungs. You should see your belly expand if doing this correctly, then exhale as you bring your belly towards your spine.
  5. Bring your attention to an area in your body that feels painful or tense; and on your exhale, focus on releasing that tension.
  6. Continue doing this for 5 – 15 minutes every day.

Kristin Hietbrink is a physical therapist at OrthoCarolina’s Eastover Physical Therapy office. 

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