Tag Archives: practice yoga

Yoga helps low back pain – Study

I was lucky enough to encounter yoga over 30 years ago. While I still practice it for flexibility and strength training, I think the greatest benefit I got from it was the ability to relax myself through deep breathing.Over the course of their lives, about 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at one time or another. A recent study found that more than a third of adults say that low back pain has affected their ability to perform the tasks of daily living, exercise, or sleep. Treating this pain remains a difficult problem, and for millions of people the pain is chronic.


Now, a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has concluded that yoga may be helpful for low back pain. The study appeared earlier this month in the online journal Cochrane Library.

“We found that the practice of yoga was linked to pain relief and improvement in function,” said the study’s lead author, L. Susan Wieland, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine at UM SOM, and Coordinator of the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UM SOM – an NIH grant-funded project that performs systematic reviews of various integrative medicine topics. “For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment.”

Wieland and her co-authors reviewed 12 separate studies looking at yoga for low back pain. The trials, which included more than 1,000 participants, compared yoga to a non-exercise intervention, such as educational material given to a patient, or to an exercise intervention such as physical therapy. The researchers found that there was low to moderate certainty evidence that at three and six months, patients using yoga had small to moderate improvements in back-related function, as well as small improvements in pain.

Yoga performed about the same as non-yoga exercise in terms of improving back function at three and six months, although the researchers found few studies comparing yoga to other exercise and therefore considered the evidence to be very low certainty.

Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice that originated more than 2,000 years ago in India. Over the past several decades, it has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and other western countries. It typically involves a combination of physical movements, controlled breathing, and relaxation or meditation.

Most of the trials used Iyengar, Hatha, or Viniyoga forms of the practice. Because all study participants knew whether or not they were practicing yoga, and their reporting of changes in pain and functioning could have been affected by this knowledge, the study outcomes could only be graded with “moderate” certainty at best. The study also found that patients using yoga had more adverse effects than patients who did not use exercise, but had similar rates of adverse effects as patients who used non-yoga exercise. The adverse effects were mostly increases in back pain. Yoga was not associated with serious side effects.

The research team also included scientists from the University of Portsmouth in the UK and the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany.

Here are some further posts I have done on yoga;

Why should I do yoga?

Are there immediate benefits to doing yoga?

Yoga stretches for cyclists

If you want to read more type Y O G A into the search box at the right.


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Filed under back pain, yoga

Pilates or Yoga? – Infographic

I dated a yoga teacher and practiced it for years. I think learning the breathing techniques alone are worth it. I am pretty ignorant about Pilates. I took one class, but had a bad teacher, so never went back. I do know that a lot of people I respect practice it. A trainer told me that if you want a longer, leaner line, go with Pilates; if you want to condition your mind and body, do yoga.




Filed under Pilates, yoga, yoga vs pilates

Why Should I Do Yoga?

Almost 15 million Americans practice yoga. Yoga Journal

When I was in my 30’s I dated a woman who taught yoga and for two years I practiced it religiously with her. After we split up I continued my daily yoga for a long time. Somehow, in the midst of the trials and tribulations of my life, I scaled back on it and stopped practicing regularly. Nonetheless I continued to benefit from things I had learned from it, like diaphragmatic breathing. This wonderful tool has helped me to deal with stress all my life. Even now in retirement, I still use it although I feel far less stress than I did when I was a worker bee.

When I first started doing yoga, I was still a runner and one immediate benefit was that I didn’t turn my ankles as often, or at all. I don’t know if assuming the poses strengthened my ankles and legs or I simply achieved a better sense of balance, but I went from turning my ankles about once a week, to maybe twice a year. Also, in the years I did yoga, I had a really heightened awareness of my body that was very gratifying, hard to explain, but gratifying.

I find that now as a senior citizen, there are good reasons for me to resume my yoga practice. First, while I ride a bike daily and enjoy superb cardiovascular health, I don’t enjoy doing weight-bearing exercise very much. And, everyone needs to do that, too. It turns out yoga is weight-bearing exercise, but much more enjoyable (to me) than pumping iron. Second, I recently heard a talk on seniors falling which I wrote up here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, said, “Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.”

Frankly, that scared me. People die in hospitals. I want to steer clear of them. So, increasing my strength and balance through yoga has become very much more appealing.

I also remember that wonderful feeling of exhilaration doing yoga. The release of each posture always made those particular muscles feel alive with energy. The controlled relaxation at the end of every session never failed to boost my spirits. I would like to return to those sensations. So, I have started doing yoga again.

But, what about you? Maybe you aren’t an old man who doesn’t want to fall and go to the hospital. Why should you do yoga?

Here is what the yogasite says about why you should do yoga.
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Filed under aging, back pain, Exercise, relaxation, stress, stretching, Weight, yoga