Let's explore if inflammation is a good thing or a bad thing or possibly both. We may find that after an injury to the body, the area gets inflamed, red, swollen, hot to the touch, and painful. We may think that what is happening is not doing any good, but it actually is. The following is a simplified explanation of the healing process and a review when inflammation becomes chronic and finally 3 ways to reduce chronic inflammation.
There are four phases of healing tissue in the body after an acute injury - 1) haemostasis 2) inflammation (that is where this article comes in), 3) tissue formation and 4) tissue remodeling. All are necessary for normal healthy tissue healing. The first phase haemostasis, is when the fibrin (a fibrous mesh) clots helping to stop the flow of blood to the wound site. Platelets also release growth factors at this stage. The next phase, inflammation is the cleansing part of the process, where certain chemicals are released to cleanse the wound of infection and debris. This process can last up to 2 weeks and is important for the next phase. Tissue formation or proliferation is the third phase of healing and is where new fibrous matrices are formed and new capillaries to promote circulation. The final phase tissue remodeling is where the newly formed tissue becomes scar tissue and strength is increased. Voila! Good as new.
But what happens if inflammation is chronic? Inflammation in the long term and not from an injury, can be a contributing factor of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune disorders and stress. Tissues and nerves surrounding the inflamed areas of the body can become hypersensitive. Mediating factors like diet, exercise and reducing stress can all support decreasing inflammation. Another approach may be to find the cause of the inflammation rather than just treat the symptoms of it.
Here are 3 simple ways that yoga can help reduce inflammation:
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) - using this breathing method can reduce stress creating easefulness in both hemispheres of the brain for better concentration, creativity and better breathing overall.
Restorative Yoga - helps to reduce inflammation due to its Relaxation Response . These fully supported poses are held for longer periods of time to allow the body and mind to move towards the rest and digest state.
Awareness Practices - with pain and any other chronic condition we want to create a sense of safety. When we feel unsafe then the inflammatory response can occur as a result. We first need to have a sense of what is going on in our body, mind and breath. Using an awareness practice can help us decide what we need to change in order to feel safe.
Giving inflammation its due respect when it comes to acute injuries is necessary, but also supporting yourself with practices that decrease inflammation may lead to finding ease and less pain. And a systematic review of yoga and inflammation studies found that a consistent practice leads to lower inflammatory markers. Our Two-week Free Trial will get you started on some of the above practices and your own journey to managing inflammation.