A new study has found that yoga exercises may have the power to combat fibromyalgia. If you aren’t familiar with that condition, count yourself fortunate. Because its widespread pain and relatively unknown cause continue to defy experts and frustrate patients.
Fibromyalgia is something that is generally treated by drugs, and accompanied by exercise and coping skills approaches. The new study focused on the ancient art of yoga — now, of course, a modern-day trend — to see if it could be effective in reducing painful symptoms.
Researchers enrolled 53 women with fibromyalgia. Some participated in an eight-week yoga program that included gentle poses, meditation, breathing exercises, and group discussions. The others (control group) received standard medication treatments for fibromyalgia.
Each yoga session consisted of 40 minutes of gentle stretching poses, 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation (e.g. awareness of breath), 10 minutes of breathing techniques, 20 minutes of presentations about how to apply yoga principles to one’s life, and 25 minutes of group discussions. Each participant in the yoga group was urged to keep a daily diary to personally assess their condition throughout the entire program.
The results showed clearly that yoga appears to assist in combating a number of serious fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain, fatigue, stiffness, poor sleep, depression, poor memory, anxiety, and poor balance. All of these improvements were shown to be not only statistically but also clinically significant, meaning the changes were large enough to have a real impact on daily life. For example: pain was reduced in the yoga group by an average of 24%, fatigue by 30%, and depression by 42%.
Though yoga has been practiced for millennia, only recently have researchers begun to demonstrate yoga’s effects on persons suffering from persistent pain. And this is another step in a very promising direction.
Another finding of the study was that yoga appeared to help people cope better with pain and use more optimal coping strategies such as spirituality, problem solving, doing activities despite pain, acceptance, and relaxation.
Pain is caused by a lot of things in the medical world, so this study yields excellent insight into many other areas. If you are searching for answers to pain, there is more than enough evidence going around that, if you give yoga a serious approach it might indeed help you live your life in greater comfort.