FACT…Yoga can improve common health problems

Yoga as part of a wellness regime is generally accepted as being beneficial, and according to a recent study, it can have therapeutic benefits for conditions such as osteoarthritis, asthma, stress and low back pain too.

Pierre Bibby, CEO of the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY), said “the growth of yoga in the west over the past few decades has been exponential; and there have been numerous and far-reaching benefits publicised from many different sources.

At the BWY we identified a need to differentiate and where possible substantiate the legitimate benefits from the hype. Working with ScHARR at the University of Sheffield, our aim was to strengthen the evidence for yoga, whilst remaining impartial.”

In order to explore the therapeutic effects of yoga for health and wellbeing, the team at ScHARR reviewed a number of studies on healthy adults and yoga for people with common health conditions. The focus was directed towards the most common mental and physical health issues to ensure the widest application for the report.

Their findings suggest that yoga does in fact have positive effects on some of the conditions affecting adults aged between 25 and 65. Within the report there is sufficient evidence to suggest that yoga can effectively improve osteoarthritis of the hand, improve some subjective symptoms in asthma suffers as well as reduce the risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy people.

The report also finds that yoga can be a beneficial treatment for chronic low back pain and some of its side effects, and proves effective for suffers of cancer, depression, some eating disorders and stress.

In addition, there is positive news for women where yoga can help during pregnancy, labour and improve cognitive function and perceived stress during the menopause.

The researchers conclude that much of the research available is positive despite some flaws and gaps in the current body of evidence.

So whilst yoga may not be the panacea for all ills, or necessarily a non-drug based, holistic alternative to treatment, there is certainly sufficient evidence that it can be used as a successful intervention for the treatment of some common conditions.

It is anticipated that the findings of this research will provide a level of confidence for yoga teachers, and health and social care practitioners to advise students and patients about how yoga can help them.

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