New research from the United States suggests that the millennia-old therapy of yoga could benefit millions of people who suffer from back problems. In an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on December 20, researchers concluded that yoga was a more effective treatment for back pain than conventional therapy. A study conducted at the Group Health Cooperative in Washington State required 101 adults to follow a choice of remedial treatments – a 12-week course in yoga, 12 weeks of standard therapeutic exercise or the same period following instructions in a self-help book. The results showed yoga both expedited relief from pain and had longer lasting benefits. Lead researcher Dr. Karen Sherman said this was because “mind and body effects” were in collusion.
The article states that: “Most treatments for chronic low back pain have modest efficacy at best. Exercise is one of the few proven treatments…however, its effects are often small, and no form has been shown to be clearly better than another. Yoga, which often couples physical exercise with breathing, is a popular alternative form of ‘mind–body’ therapy…[It] may benefit patients with back pain simply because it involves exercise or because of its effects on mental focus. We found no published studies in western biomedical literature that evaluated yoga for chronic low back pain; therefore, we designed a clinical trial to evaluate its effectiveness.” Millions of people worldwide swear by yoga to improve their mental and physical health.