Yoga for Pain Relief | Kelly McGonigal | Talks at Google | Summary and Q&A

April 14, 2010
Talks at Google
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Yoga for Pain Relief | Kelly McGonigal | Talks at Google


Yoga can be a powerful tool for pain relief, providing unexpected healing and relief for chronic pain conditions.

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Key Insights

  • πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ¨ Chronic pain is a protective and instinctive mind/body response to threats, but in chronic pain conditions, this response becomes overprotective and learned, not instinctive.
  • 😷 Yoga can provide profound relief for various chronic pain conditions and is often more effective than traditional medical care.
  • πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ¨ Chronic pain is not distinct from emotional pain, and the brain and nervous system do not distinguish between physical and social threats.
  • πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ¨ Stress management is crucial for healing chronic pain, and yoga and meditation can help reduce stress levels and improve pain symptoms.
  • 😨 Yoga involves various modalities, such as movement, breathing, meditation, relaxation, and self-care, which work together to provide pain relief.
  • 🀯 Yoga is not just a form of exercise; it is a holistic practice that includes the body, mind, and breath.
  • πŸƒ The traditional perspective of yoga focuses on relaxation, breathing, mindfulness, and philosophy, rather than solely physical exercise.
  • ⚾ Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs are a great introduction to yoga, combining movement, breathing, relaxation, and yoga philosophy.
  • πŸ‘‚ Yoga can improve the experience and safety of other forms of exercise by teaching individuals to listen to their body and honor their limits.
  • πŸ˜‹ The yoga diet emphasizes a mostly plant-based, real food diet, which can help reduce inflammation and improve overall well-being.


Maya: Today our guest is Kelly McGonigal. She is an expert in body/mind relationship and psychology of yoga. So, she's teaching yoga and psychology -- meditation -- at Stanford. And today, she's here with us to talk about how to use yoga for pain relief. So, let's welcome Kelly. [applause] Kelly McGonigal: Thanks, Maya. Thanks, Cliff. As Maya ment... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Can yoga completely eliminate chronic pain?

While yoga may not completely eliminate chronic pain, it can help individuals feel like they have their life back and provide relief from pain.

Q: How does yoga compare to traditional medical interventions, such as surgeries and medications?

Yoga has been shown to be more effective than traditional medical care for chronic pain conditions, such as back pain and fibromyalgia.

Q: Can yoga help with other forms of chronic stress or suffering?

Yes, yoga can help with chronic stress and the ordinary suffering of being a human being. It can provide benefits for both the body and mind.

Q: How does yoga help with pain relief at a physiological level?

Yoga can change the way the nervous system responds to pain, reduce inflammation, and increase neuroplasticity, allowing the brain to learn new habits.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and yoga teacher, discusses the benefits of using yoga for pain relief.

  • Yoga has been shown to provide profound relief for chronic pain conditions, such as back pain, joint pain, and autoimmune disorders.

  • Yoga helps by re-educating the body and mind, changing the way the brain responds to pain and reducing stress levels.

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