The benefits of disciplined, mindful yoga include increased strength, improved balance, greater endurance, healthy flexibility, and a far better response to stress.
There are poses which improve your range of motion, and others that promote good nervous health.
All yoga gets your blood flow going. Between its many benefits, yoga is a highly effective therapy for peripheral neuropathy when you know what poses to use.
Here’s a look at five simple yoga exercises for peripheral neuropathy that will reduce pain and improve your quality of life.
Do them one by one or follow all five in a sequence for a great yoga routine.
Tadasana – Mountain Pose
The mountain pose is a foundational stance which is a great starting position for many kinds of yoga. It helps build balance and stability while alleviating stress on the spinal column.
Mountain pose also improves dorsiflexion and plantar flexion while improving sensitivity in the extremities.
As you grow accustomed to holding this asana for an extended period, you'll be developing your focus and alleviating the long-term symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
- Start by standing with your feet positioned together.
- Align your heels to your behind your second and third toes. This may require some to turn their feet slightly inward. Your big toes must be touching.
- Distribute your weight evenly on each foot.
- You want to lift your feet, spreading the toes and then placing them back down while you gently roll your weight from side to side making sure to feel the even balance at the bottom of your feet. No leaning forward or backward.
- Flex your thigh muscles and lift your knee caps without any hardening of your abdominal muscles or belly.
- Straighten your legs but don't lock your knees.
- Roll and push your shoulder blades backward extending them and widening the chest. Lift your sternum upward and open your collarbones.
- Hang your arms comfortably at your sides with your elbows slightly bent, and your palms and fingers extended.
- Inhale and extend your spine as your press the top of your crown upwards towards the ceiling while at the same times lifting your arms up so that your hands point to the heavens. Your palms must rotate to face inward.
- As you exhale, gently press your chest out while continuing to reach out with your fingers. Relax your shoulders while still reaching with your crown and extending your fingers.
- Hold this position for four to eight breaths before exhaling and allowing your arms to drop to your sides.
- Once in position, take five to ten breaths while making sure that your body is aligned with your spine straight and weight balanced evenly
As a standalone exercise, tadasana helps you develop focus, concentration, and balance. It’s a fantastic resting pose and the start to many other forms of yoga.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog
Inversions are extremely beneficial to the nervous system.
As the downward facing dog stretches your hamstrings, lower back, and calves, it builds strengths in the arms, legs, and back.
It also improves circulation to the brain while working your deep abdominal muscles which benefits spine stability.
- Position yourself on your hands and knees, on the floor. Make sure that your knees are set straight beneath your hips.
- Put your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Don't make the mistake of positioning your feet too close together nor too far apart Spread out your palms. You can keep your index fingers parallel or turn them out slightly. Your toes must turn under.
- While making sure to breathe, lift your knees from the floor keeping them slightly bent. Point the bones that you sit on toward the ceiling. Lift your rear while leaving your pelvis neutral.
- Exhale and then push your upper thighs back, stretching your heels onto the floor. Start to straighten your knees but make sure that they don't lock. Hold your outer thighs firm and then roll them inward slightly.
Hold the downward facing dog for one minute to start with, increasing the duration as you grow more comfortable with the asana. You’re ultimately looking to practice this yoga pose for three minutes each day. Whereas most inversions must be avoided by patients with high blood pressure and any underlying heart condition, the downward dog can be done safely with the aid of a chair.
Virabhadrasana II – Warrior II
This is an excellent pose for strengthening the inner thighs, hip rotators, groin, chest, shoulders, and lungs. It increases stamina immensely and is specifically designed to support alignment. Blood flow to the extremities is improved, and stress on the spine and appendages is relieved.
Neuropathy patients who have gait and balance problems should use a chair to help them balance during Virabhadrasana II.
Studies show that regular practice improves hip, knee, and ankle flexion while also improving the patient's ability to walk.
- Assume Tadasana.
- Take a big step backward with your left leg, rotating your left foot to between 45 and 60-degrees.
- Make sure that your right toes are pointed towards the front of the mat.
- Press your feet firmly into the floor, firming your legs while keeping them straight.
- Raise your arms parallel to the ground inhaling deeply.
- Start exhaling as you begin to bend your right knee. Keep your knee above your ankle at all times.
- Position your right thigh parallel to the ground. Adjust your legs further apart if necessary
- Ensure that your right knee is aligned with your first two toes above the ankle.
- Balance your weight onto your right knee pressuring down onto the big toe area of your right foot.
- Elongate your spine evenly drawing in your abdomen.
- Continue to extend and elongate your arms, collarbone, fingertips and all four sides of your next.
- Gaze out over your right arm ensuring that your body is placed at a right angle relative to the floor. Keep your shoulders over your hips.
- Hold this position for four to eight breaths before pressing your weight down into your feet and then straightening your leg on one steady inward breath.
- Switch and repeat on the left.
Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
The triangle pose is a great exercise for flexibility and a great place to start for beginners. You don't need very much flexibility to do a Trikonasana.
As a foundation pose, this deceivingly simple setup strengthens your legs while stretching your hamstrings, groin, hips, and it opens your chest and shoulders.
It also develops balance and stability, and blood flow to the extremities improves.
Regular practice helps the body retain energy in the muscles as well. It’s easiest to start Triangle pose from Warrior II.
Don't bend your knees and remember to stretch as far as possible even if you can't touch your toes. Follow these instructions to assume Trikonasana:
- Assume Tadasana within reach of a wall.
- Exhale and move your feet roughly 4-feet apart.
- Turn your left foot so that only the outer edge of your left heel touches the wall.
- Totally rotate your right leg making sure that your knee is facing away from the wall.
- Align your right and left heels and then turn your right thigh so that the middle of the right knee cap is aligned to the center of your right ankle.
- Put your hands on your hips and raise your chest and torso.
- Stretch out your arms keeping your chest and torso at its height.
- Make sure that your weight is evenly balanced across the inside and outside edges of your feet.
- Gently move your ankle, knee, and hip into alignment with the center of your foot.
- Use the wall to support your left heel as you rotate your torso to the left.
- Lay your right hand against the floor outside your right foot or on your shin or ankle.
- Stretch your left arm upward toward the sky.
- Hold your head either turned toward the left or in a neutral position.
- Maintain this asana for a minimum of thirty-seconds targeting one-minute.
- Inhale as you allow yourself to come up using your back head to provide support and pressure while stretching upward with your top arm.
- Reverse your feet and repeat.
Chakravakasana – Cat-Cow Stretch
Catch-cow stretch is a pose which promotes balance while extending the spine and working your core muscles. It also improves posture, while strengthening the arms, wrists, shoulders, and gluteus muscles.
The challenge of balancing engages the core intensely while stabilizing the pelvis.
Try placing a blanket underneath your balancing knee to reduce pressure.
- Begin on your hands and knees making sure that your wrists are directly beneath your shoulders and your knees are beneath your hips.
- Imagine the spine as a straight line, connecting your hips to your shoulders - this is your neutral position.
- Elongate your neck and look downward.
- Inhale while curling your toes and tilting your pelvis so that your tailbone points upward.
- Allow the motion from the tilting of your pelvis move up your spine making your neck move last.
- Pull your navel in so that your abdominal muscles stay flexed against your spine.
- Gently look upward toward the ceiling. Don't strain your neck.
- Exhale and start by adjusting your feet so that the tops are touching the floor.
- Tuck in your tailbone as you move your pelvis forward.
- Let the movement carry up your spine, causing it to round naturally.
- Pull your navel inward toward your spine.
- Allow your head to drop.
- Repeat the movement as you inhale and exhale appropriately
Practice Yoga Diligently
Strengthening the hip rotators and hip extensors supports the nervous system, and slow the long-term progression of neuropathy. As you may notice, all five asanas give nerve support by targeting these areas among others.
Regular practice of yoga can help you reach the focus and dedication needed to make or maintain other changes in your life. It develops dedication while healing the nervous system through movement and the engagement of precise muscles.
Yoga is established as an effective treatment for neurodegenerative disorders, and it has a profound benefit on nerve functioning. Maintain your practice for a couple of weeks, and you’ll find that pain is much lower, while your overall endurance and balance are better as well.
In addition to doing the yoga exercises above, you should also eat a diet that consists of foods which supports the nervous system. Avoid processed foods, sugars, alcohol, and gluten.
If you cannot completely change your diet, make sure you at least incorporate vitamin and herbs through supplementation that give your nerves the necessary nutrition.
At the end of the day, it's not just one tip or trick that will help you, but rather a combination of exercise, diet, and nutritional supplementation. By taking a holistic approach to treating neuropathy, you can greatly reduce your pain and tingling, while restoring healthy nerves over time.