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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yoga for Pain Relief is a must have.
If you are interested in health, well-being or yoga this book is a must have. As a yoga instructor here are a few reasons why I loved it. 1. The practices and recommendations are accessible to everyone and benefit beginning to experienced practitioners. 2. The practices can be readily integrated into a group yoga class and into working one-on-one with people. 3. The...
Published on November 23, 2009 by M. Hanson

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yoga for Pain Relief
Pretty simple,and nothing revolutionary about it,I could have saved my money and purchased a notebook to record my practices in. If you don't know what you are doing it would be helpful.
Published 11 months ago by B. Hambleton


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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yoga for Pain Relief is a must have., November 23, 2009
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This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
If you are interested in health, well-being or yoga this book is a must have. As a yoga instructor here are a few reasons why I loved it. 1. The practices and recommendations are accessible to everyone and benefit beginning to experienced practitioners. 2. The practices can be readily integrated into a group yoga class and into working one-on-one with people. 3. The recommendations are supported by both western medical evidence and the yogic tradition. 4. To reduce stress, lower back, neck and shoulder pain, I've integrated several of the recommendations into my personal practice, and have felt an immediate and positive difference.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful tool for helping my wife deal with her chronic pain, November 19, 2009
By 
Kiyash Monsef (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
Dr. McGonigal's advice is inspiring, down-to-earth, and easy to put into action right away.
I have been doing the breathing exercises and meditations with my wife, who began suffering from chronic headaches after a concussion this past summer. She wanted to avoid heavy pain medications, and this book was a lifesaver. It helped both with the physical pain and also the depression and anxiety that she felt, having little control over her symptoms. I was happy to be able to work through the book with her -- it helped me better understand what she going through, and gave me concrete ways to help her: by doing breathing exercises together, and reading the meditations out loud to her.
It helps that the book is grounded in scientific research (psychology and physiology) as well as Dr. McGonigal's yoga practice, it makes for a well-grounded book that is both eye-opening and comforting.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable, hopeful resource for those who are suffering, June 12, 2010
This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book to review for the web site Metapsychology Online Reviews; please see a more complete version of my review on that site.

Yoga for Pain Relief offers simple strategies from the mind-body approach of yoga to ease pain--both physical and emotional--and to alleviate suffering. In her Introduction, author Kelly McGonigal describes how pain itself is a mind-body experience; she notes that chronic pain in particular is a learned response. Through the regular practice of yoga strategies, including breathing techniques, befriending the body, physical exercises, and relaxation, McGonigal maintains that one can attain greater control over one's mind and body both to increase comfort and to decrease suffering.

McGonigal begins by providing an overview of the pain response. She then introduces some basic ideas from the yogic tradition that will facilitate further discussion of the yoga healing practices. These concepts are very straightforward, such as the importance of the breath and the focus on the experience of inner joy as part of the practice. At this point, McGonigal is ready to begin reviewing some actual healing practices, starting in Chapter 3 with Breath. Throughout the practice segments of the book, there are detailed descriptions of how to perform the various exercises accompanied by clear, helpful black-and-white photos of McGonigal and other models demonstrating the movements. Also, at the end of every yoga practice chapter, McGonigal includes a "Putting it All Together" section which offers suggestions for how to use the exercises/practices in different ways.

The next chapter focuses on Befriending the Body, or moving from a more adversarial relationship with oneself and one's pain to one of compassion and acceptance. For the physical exercises, McGonigal's emphasis is always on healing. She presents gentle asana (held postures) and vinyasa (movements combined with breath), many of which are performed on the floor or can be modified with use of a chair. After introducing a basic pose sequence which can be combined in many different ways, McGonigal moves on to restorative postures. These poses require props to support the body and to allow for a more complete relaxation experience. The final yoga practice chapter focuses on Meditation. As with the previous chapters, McGonigal offers several different options for establishing a meditation practice and explains each in detail.

In the final chapter of the book, McGonigal offers suggestions for developing a personal yoga program. I especially liked her encouragement to establish a "homecoming" practice--that is, choosing just one simple exercise from the book that you will commit to practicing daily. She provides various suggestions for how to incorporate the exercises from the preceding chapters into different types of practices. In addition, McGonigal notes how the short personal vignettes from her students which appear throughout the book offer examples of various yoga rituals. McGonigal concludes the book with a Resources chapter offering information on books, music, DVDs, and other resources for people with pain.

For those who are suffering from chronic pain, this book is an excellent, hopeful resource. McGonigal herself is not only a psychology, yoga, and meditation instructor but also a former chronic pain sufferer. When practiced regularly--perhaps in as little as 15 minutes per day--these easy-to-use, gentle yoga techniques can give you the tools to manage your pain and to reduce your suffering. Dr. McGonigal has written a book that is clear, well-researched, easy-to-understand, and potentially extremely valuable, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hands-down best book on this topic, March 22, 2010
By 
Neil D. Pearson (Penticton, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
yoga for pain relief is hands-down the best guidebook written on the topic of yoga and chronic pain. It is practical, compassionate, science-based and easy to understand. This is Yoga; this is science; and best of all, this is accessible to people who do not know yoga.
Three specific groups of people should read this book - people with chronic pain, practitioners who treat people in pain, and all Yoga teachers. Kelly's expertise and experiences allow her to provide hope and a realistic view that improvements are possible. Her book offers compassionate guidance, and makes it clear that chronic pain is a complex multidimensional problem requiring much more than a recipe approach or modifications of yoga postures. Many of the simple to perform techniques she describes are effectively used in multidisciplinary pain management settings. Even people with severe pain will find some assistance from this guidebook. With over 20% of the North American population reporting chronic pain, there is a huge need for greater understanding of pain self-management and the role Yoga can play in recovery.
I recommend yoga for pain relief to my patients and students for the following reasons:
* The instructions are simple and easy to follow, including powerful breathing, body awareness, relaxation and meditation techniques.
* There are no recipes provided.
* The guidance includes many aspects of Yoga, rather than a biomechanical focus on Yoga postures as physical therapy.
* Her `five guidelines for movements that heal' answer an important question about how to move in the face of ongoing pain.
* The clarity that some techniques are for immediate pain relief and others are for long last benefits.
* The integration of real-person stories to highlight key aspects of recovery from pain.
* Comments such as, "Your goal is create peace of mind even in poses that create strong sensations of stretch or require effort to hold". The same goal of course applies when one is at the edge of increased pain.

Don't be misled by the title of this book. It teaches as much about chronic pain, pain self-management and the current science of pain as it does about Yoga. There is even a citation list for those interested in delving further into the science behind Yoga practices for people in pain.
Like all guide books, you may find the best results by working with a practitioner who understands Yoga and understand chronic pain. If you cannot locate one, don't let that stop you from slowly working through these techniques. Give them enough of your attention and enough practice and they will help you towards less pain, better movement and improved quality of life.
Neil Pearson, MSc, BScPT, BA-BPHE, CYT, RYT500 is a physiotherapist, certified yoga therapist, and Clinical Assistant Professor at University of British Columbia. He is the founding chair of the Pain Science Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, and an active member of Pain BC Society. Neil travels extensively teaching pain science and pain management to health care professionals, yoga teachers and people in pain. His clinical work, in Penticton BC, is exclusively with people with complex pain problems. [...]
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science + Practical Advice = Great Resource, November 15, 2009
By 
This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
I am a long time student of Dr. Kelly McGonigal. I found this book to be very helpful in explaining the science of pain, and how my own mental patterns in dealing with personal chronic pain were exacerbating or relieving my pain. The practical suggestions for poses to stretch and move while in pain have been useful for reducing the intensity of pain in my shoulder and neck. The gentle movements offered in this book were also helpful in recovering from a recent bout of the flu. I found the stories to be helpful in learning that I am not alone in dealing with pain and hearing strategies for how other people dealt with similar issues. Yoga is not a quick fix, but the ideas and suggestions in this book have made a real difference in handling day to day stress and pain.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical Help, July 23, 2010
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This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
This book is calming and soothing in tone and content. It gives a clear path to follow in handling chronic pain and by extension, a lot of life's other challenges. The yoga exercises are not difficult and should be possible for a lot of people to do, depending on their situations. The breathing and meditation sections are great and focus on the concept of coping with your situation. The author gives a total program that can be customized to fit anyone's particular circumstances. I was very interested in her discussion of how the mind treats chronic pain and how changing one's thinking and approach can make pain easier to bear - and also happy to see that there were practical ways to go about it. Clearly written and easy to follow with sufficient photos.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple Truths, January 29, 2013
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This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
Outstandingly written. A simple truth expressed very well, with how-to information.

How do you best handle a chronic condition in you body? First, befriend your body, and enlist your body's aid. Remember, the two oxen pull the cart better in cooperation, than they do in contention.

I have a yoga student with chronic pain. I began guiding her towards controlling the suffering she was experiencing, and she responded very well. Then I found this book. It expressed in words, what I had been doing by intuition. I read the book in one (rather long) sitting. It is engaging, enlightening, and honest. I shall gift her this book at the next class.

The clearly laid out logic of why this approach works, and how to utilize this approach, are helpful for people who have not yet distinguished between pain and suffering.

Highest recommendation.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yoga for Pain Relief, January 26, 2010
By 
This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
Diane Byster, LMFT, NCC, RYT
Book Review:
Yoga for Pain Relief. Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.

Yoga for Pain Relief, a new book by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., is truly a must read for psychotherapists and health care professionals. The book is concise, very well-organized, and written as if the author is having a personal conversation with the reader. McGonigal explains technical concepts, such as the neurobiology of stress and pain, and breaks it down into understandable terms using every day language, absent of jargon. We learn from the author, for example, that pain and stress are both survival systems, and because these systems are inter-linked, our nervous system reacts to threats including physical, emotional, interpersonal, and economic - as physical pain.

The implications for treating our clients are very compelling. If both stress and pain are learned mind/body coordinated responses, than we can help our patients not only understand the linkage between stress and pain and how they react to perceived threats, but also offer personalized techniques that generate immediate well-being. McGonigal, includes an extensive toolkit of effective, and easy to implement breathing awareness, relaxation and movement suggestions that can be practiced with clients in the consulting room to help them feel better and empowered to manage their state of mind and body. For instance, McGonigal introduces the simple practice of `spine wave;' in a seated position drawing the shoulders back and lifting the chest on an inhalation, followed by doming the spine, bringing the chin to the chest on an exhale. Done for 5 to 10 breath cycles this combined breathing and stretching technique releases tension in the back and belly, where stress is often stored. McGonigal integrates photos of yoga and breathing postures along with real life vignettes to coach the reader and make the practices more user-friendly.

What makes Yoga for Pain Relief so special is not only a battery of techniques grounded in neuroscience and yoga, the book also explores our complex relationship with our bodies and how we learn to treat ourselves. McGonigal states that negative emotional states such as anger and bitterness can exacerbate pain and interferes with our capacity for self-care. When we are absorbed in these negative emotional states, the tendency is treat our body as the enemy, which results in protracting pain. As an alternative to perpetuating the pain cycle and maintaining an adverse relationship with our body, McGonigal offers practical methods to help us feel more peaceful and self-accepting. For instance, the author introduces a personal writing exercise called; `forgiving your pain.' Understanding that chronic pain is our mind/body trying to mitigate further harm, McGonigal encourages the reader to write about "what might happen if you lost all ability to feel pain?" Or, reflect on "what is your chronic pain trying to protect you from?" Exploring these kinds of questions helps the reader externalize their pain, rather than identify and react from it.

Not only is Yoga for Pain Relief a valuable guide for assisting our clients with difficult emotional and physical states, it's ideal for us, too. How many of us have moments during the day when we lose our feeling of being centered? Wouldn't it be great to have an array of practices easily available to calm our minds and help us stay focused? If you have been looking for such a resource, this book is it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Healing, March 2, 2010
By 
ryanprimate (San Mateo, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind and Heal Your Chronic Pain (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series) (Paperback)
Dr. McGonigal's techniques for LISTENING to and befriending the body are powerful. I found that her compassionate, yet science-based approach makes the mind-body-spirit connection relatable and attainable. The simple breathing, meditation, and yoga mantra exercises are also effective and useful in everyday life-- for everyone! Even if one doesn't suffer from chronic pain, this book is a great resource because it also applies to managing stress which we can all use!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This Book, April 23, 2013
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Wonderful & accessible new information on how pain works in the body & ways to manage pain easily with breath, gentle yoga stretches etc
Absolutely fantastic!!!!
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