If your job is to research yoga in the news, you run across amazing articles about how science is again and again proving the physical, mental and emotional benefits of yoga and meditation. So, rather than write a new post every time that science proves what yogis have known for centuries, I’m going to compile them into a collective post and share them about once a month. Here are the ways that yoga benefits your health for November:
At the beginning of the month, Good Morning America in collaberation with Medpage Today reported on the benefits of yoga in helping children cope with cancer. The research on children with cancer showed that yoga was able to help them cope with pain and anxiety. One doctor noted that those children who were practicing yoga asana were able to increase their pain scores by 1 point and their anxiety scores by 10 points, both very significant gains on a scientific scale. The Society for Integrative Oncology has recommended that yoga be included in multi-disciplinary treatment plans for cancer patients.
Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD are also benefiting from the practice. “An Australian study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, concluded that yoga "may have merit as a complementary therapy for boys with ADHD already stabilized on medication,” sites the GMA webiste, with attention levels of the students practicing yoga increasing significantly, coming close to that of their peers. Studies have found improved lung function in asthma patients, as well.
Another study released this month provides evidence that the practice of yoga increases heart health. A study to be published in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics states that increased Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a sign of heart health, is higher in the participants who practiced yoga than those who did not. HRV is the ability for the heart to respond to stimuli by rising then return to resting levels in a steady, reliable way. The study evaluated 84 men ages 18-48, all healthy, but only half practicing yoga. The research concludes that the parasympathetic nervous system in strengthened through the practice of yoga, and this has a significant positive effect on heart health.
This month, mediation was in health news, too. A study in the Journal of Pain showed that a brief experience of meditation can significantly affect pain levels. Pain reduction in long term meditators has been documented before, but this is the first study to show that even untrained meditators can experience decreased pain sensitivity. The group of 22 college students received only three 20 minute meditation trainings over three days, and showed lower pain ratings than the control group who were offered math distraction and relaxation techniques.
Finally for November, a study titled “Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of Yoga in the Treatment of Eating Disorders” published in the Journal of Adolescent Health on Nov. 3 shows that practicing yoga can have a positive effect on those suffering eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. The study, comprised of 50 adolescents ages 11-16, showed that those who were practicing yoga regularly in addition to their treatment showed greater improvements on tests of eating disorder behaviors than those who were not practicing yoga and only receiving treatment. The group of yoga practitioners also did not lapse back into eating disorder behavior as readily as the group who were not practicing yoga.
If you encounter more ways that science is proving yoga practices benefit your health, please share them with us!