Relieve pain with yoga

by Deborah Charnes

If you have watched or listened to national news, you’ve heard about the growing problem of opioid abuse, which has reached epidemic proportions. Between 1999 and 2014 more than 165,000 people died in the U.S. from prescription opioid overdoses, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2014 alone, more than 240,000 million prescriptions were written for opioids.

As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control now discourages opioids from being the first line of treatment. One alternative suggested is mind/body approaches, including meditation and yoga. Area residents and medical care providers can learn more about the potential benefits of yoga and meditation during a special event on June 17 celebrating the International Day of Yoga.


Dr. Venkat Srinivasan is a traditionally trained medical doctor who’s familiar with integrative approaches to health care; he’ll be teaching “Yoga in Health Care” on June 17 at the TriPoint Event Center. In his latest book, Principles of Mind-Body Medicine, he suggests yoga is a great alternative. For those with digestive disorders, for example, he says “…the results seem to indicate improvement in pain.”

Lawrence M. Cohen, M.D., medical director of the Center for Complementary Medicine in San Antonio, is also a proponent of integrative and complementary options. He will also speak on June 17 at the TriPoint Event Center as part of the 3rd Annual iDoYoga Festival ( He says,“Pain represents an area of inflammation and ‘stuck energy.’ By doing stretches, applying sound eating practices and using diaphragmatic breathing, both the causes of pain and the perception of pain can be lowered.”

I turned to yoga for pain management 40 years ago. Today, I not only practice yoga—in its many forms, several times a day—I also follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle to keep nagging spasms at a minimum.

Having successfully tapped in to yoga for pain management, I became a Certified Yoga Therapist. One of my clients was a veteran with a barrage of injuries and insurmountable pain. With the support of bolsters and cushions, he was able to relax his mind and body in key poses, and practice mindfulness and breath work. He experienced a significant reduction in discomfort, improved energy and sleep, and an overall improved state of being.


For decades, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD, from Harvard Medical School has conducted clinical research trials evaluating yoga treatments for back pain and a host of other disorders. “Yoga practices that include all of the traditional components including breath regulations, deep relaxation and meditation/mindfulness, in addition to physical postures and exercises, are behavioral strategies that have a significant psychophysiological impact on physical and mental fitness,” he says. Khalsa, who is also editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, will also be at the TriPoint Event Center on June 17 to lead a daylong seminar on Yoga in Health Care for physicians, students and healthcare professionals.

Deborah CharnesA registered yoga teacher and yoga therapist, Deborah Charnes carries additional certificates in Reiki, Ayurveda and acupressure. Working in the corporate world since 1981, she understands living and working in a stressful environment that can be remedied through yoga. Charnes has created a series of Chill Out workshops to help others help themselves through yoga and meditation. Learn more at or 210-381-1846.

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