Can Yoga Help Disadvantaged Women?

A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University suggests that the stress-reducing power of yoga and mindfulness can be a powerful tool in helping disadvantaged women cope with symptoms of depression and other mental health issues. After two months of practicing yoga these women showed significant mental health benefits. Several national and international organizations have also been using yoga to help disadvantaged women improve mental health, heal trauma and create overall empowerment.

What exactly does this study reveal?

Inger Burnett-Zeigler, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and co-researchers focused on mindfulness-based stress-reduction and its potential usefulness for women in a Federally Qualified Health Center. Thirty-one African American women between the ages of 18 and 65 that had previously exhibited symptoms of depression took part in the study. Common symptoms of depression include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, and pessimism.

The women in the study participated in eight weeks of mindfulness training. At the end of the study, researchers found a significant decrease in stress levels and symptoms of depression in the participants. The results also showed a significant increase in mindfulness and self-acceptance.

The study is the first to examine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions to combat depression among disadvantaged women in a Federally Qualified Health Center, which provides comprehensive community-based medical care to low-income individuals. Overall, the study suggests that mindfulness-based programs can be extremely beneficial for disadvantaged women and may help these women treat depression and other mental health symptoms.

Is anyone putting the results of the study into action?

Yes! There are a handful of organizations that have been working to help disadvantaged women obtain the mindfulness benefits of yoga and meditation.

Empower Shakti International brings mindfulness education to women around the world. ESI’s mindfulness classes integrate the mind, body, and breath with the goal of creating communities full of mindful and empowered women.

Women Empowered is another organization harnessing the power of mindfulness. WE integrates mindfulness education into its programs for disadvantaged women in hopes that these mindfulness techniques will help women gain greater self-confidence and empowerment.

yogaHOPE brings yoga and mindfulness to women around the world who have been victims of trauma. yogaHope has even developed its own Trauma Informed Mind Body program to help women learn to heal themselves.

In addition to these amazing organizations, there are plenty of others bringing mindfulness and yoga to other populations in need. Mindful Yoga Therapy offers trauma-informed yoga to veterans; Yoga of 12-Step Recovery uses yoga to help people succeed in their recovery process; and Headstand teaches yoga and mindfulness to at-risk youth.

It seems as if people are discovering ways yoga and mindfulness can help people every single day. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are incredibly powerful for the brain; they can help prevent dementia; and they can help beat drug addiction. The fact that mindfulness can help disadvantaged women comes as no surprise, but the evidence in the study serves as a great reason to support organizations that are sharing the power of yoga.

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