Emotions and Pain


In Dr. Esther Sternberg’s The Balance within: The Science connection Health and Emotions . She explains the link between the central nervous system and the immune system, exploring how immune molecules made in the blood can trigger brain function that profoundly affects our emotions,  This  interplay of our emotions and our physical health is intrinsically affected by stress.

Yoga classes provide us with the luxury of devoting time to breathing, relaxation and meditation – key factors in reducing the stress associated with pain.  Space is created in which we can explore the invisible threads that weave mind and body together. This is perhaps what distinguishes yoga practice from exercise classes.

The impact of pain upon health is the focus of  The Emotions and Pain Project which highlights the rising number of people suffering with pain and the lack of capacity in our healthcare system to treat these patients one-to-one.  Dr Amanda Williams, UCL Clinical Psychologist says that there are more than 4 and half million GP appointments every year for chronic pain and many more in specialist settings.  She talks about how pain affects our mood, social life and how we feel about ourselves.  Dr Nadia Berthouze describes how emotion is expressed in the way that pain suffers move and by tension held in the muscles.

This project hopes to develop rehabilitative-assisted technology that provides feedback to each sufferer based upon their emotional state.  the technology is formulated for each individual.  In time such feedback should help sufferers to regain confidence in movement.  This is what we try to do in our practice of helpful functional movements and the project aims are very exciting.

In Your Body Speaks its Mind – Stanley Keleman, I linked somatic therapy which explores the relationship between mind and body in relation to each individual’s life/past.  Through somatic therapy, clients begin to recognize holding patterns and how the body may not be able to free itself of tension.  Those who stay with yoga classes that explore functional approach to movement seem to make the transition from expecting a “quick fix” towards a long view of internal physical perception.

However, a yoga teacher preaching such things may sound rather “wishy-washy” when you are pain. In the case of osteoarthritis which affects many people, “heavily used joints become damaged and in an attempt to stabilize the joint, cells move in and make tough fibrous tissue which stiffens the joint ..” (Pain The Science of Suffering by Patrick Wall p.86). Self-help exercises linked from Arthritis Research was of more a more immediate help to a student suffering with tennis elbow ; as was advice given to another student to use a foam roller to relieve the immediate pain caused by iliotibial band syndrome – I hope.

I have come across a site promoting a Pain Toolkit which was developed by Pete Moore, himself a persistent pain sufferer.  The site also features short videos on understanding pain.

If you view any of the resources, please let me know how you get on.  Leave comments on the site so that others can benefit from your experience.

One thought on “Emotions and Pain

  1. thanks Liz – have kept this for when I am in pain! (which luckily for me I am virtually pain free x). Not sure if there is a class on Wednesday as it is half term?  please could you let me know. thanks  Alison 


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