Yoga and pain: A mind-body complex system

Author: Deepak Chopra1, Eddie Stern2, William C Bushell3, Ryan D Castle4
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> The Chopra Foundation, New York, NY, United States. <sup>2</sup> Vivekananda Yoga University, Los Angeles, CA, United States. <sup>3</sup> Chopra Foundation Institute, New York, NY, United States. <sup>4</sup> Chopra Foundation Institute, Honolulu, HI, United States.
Conference/Journal: Front Pain Res (Lausanne)
Date published: 2023 Feb 23
Other: Volume ID: 4 , Pages: 1075866 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpain.2023.1075866. , Word Count: 238

The human body's response to pain is indicative of a complex adaptive system. Therapeutic yoga potentially represents a similar complex adaptive system that could interact with the pain response system with unique benefits.

To determine the viability of yoga as a therapy for pain and whether pain responses and/or yoga practice should be considered complex adaptive systems.

Examination through 3 different approaches, including a narrative overview of the evidence on pain responses, yoga, and complex system, followed by a network analysis of associated keywords, followed by a mapping of the functional components of complex systems, pain response, and yoga.

The narrative overview provided extensive evidence of the unique efficacy of yoga as a pain therapy, as well as articulating the relevance of applying complex systems perspectives to pain and yoga interventions. The network analysis demonstrated patterns connecting pain and yoga, while complex systems topics were the most extensively connected to the studies as a whole.

All three approaches support considering yoga a complex adaptive system that exhibits unique benefits as a pain management system. These findings have implications for treating chronic, pervasive pain with behavioral medicine as a systemic intervention. Approaching yoga as complex system suggests the need for research of mind-body topics that focuses on long-term systemic changes rather than short-term isolated effects.

Keywords: complex adaptive systems; interoception; mind - body; pain; pain managemant; systems theory; yoga.

PMID: 36910253 PMCID: PMC9996306 DOI: 10.3389/fpain.2023.1075866