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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yoga Relieves Back Pain

A recent randomized controlled study confirmed what many have known for years: yoga can relieve back pain.

Researchers in West Virginia followed 90 participants with chronic back pain, lasting 3 months or more, for a full year. One group received 6 months of standard medical treatment, including medication, while the other group took 90-minute Iyengar yoga classes from a certified instructor twice per week for 6 months. On the days when they weren’t taking classes, participants in the yoga group were instructed to practice at home for 30 minutes using props, a DVD and instruction manual.

Compared to the control group receiving standard medical treatment, those who practiced yoga regularly reported a 42 percent reduction in pain, a 29 percent reduction in functional disability, and 46 percent less depression. They also reduced their use of medication.

Six months later, 68 percent of yoga participants were still practicing an average of three days per week for at least 30 minutes. Their levels of pain, disability and depression had increased slightly as they spent less time practicing yoga, but they still had significantly fewer symptoms than those in the control group.

Iyengar yoga utilizes controlled breathing and props like blocks, benches, blankets and belts to safely perform poses (asanas) and achieve correct body alignment. This type of yoga is good for individuals new to yoga and those who have difficulty performing poses without props.


Williams K et al. "Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Efficacy of Iyengar Yoga Therapy on Chronic Low Back Pain." Spine, 34(19):2066-76, 1 Sept 2009. DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181b315cc

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