Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yoga as Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Yoga May Improve Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
People With Rheumatoid Arthritis Feel Better After 6 Weeks of Iyengar-Style Yoga
May 24, 2012 (Honolulu, Hawaii) -- Young patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may feel better after practicing yoga for just six weeks, a new study shows.

Researchers reported their findings here last week at the American Pain Society's annual meeting.

[...]

An Alternative to Drugs

The UCLA researchers say some drugs for RA can pose additional risks for younger patients. So the researchers are looking for alternatives. They decided to try Iyengar yoga.

In Iyengar yoga, practitioners may use blocks, straps, cushions, and other props to stretch and strengthen their muscles.

The UCLA researchers recruited 26 women with RA. The women's ages ranged from 21 to 35. On average they had suffered from RA for 10 and a half years.

The researchers then assigned 11 of these women to classes in Iyengar yoga. They assigned the other 15 to a wait list for yoga classes.

After six weeks, they asked both groups about their condition. The group that practiced yoga said they were happier than when they started. They said they could better accept their pain. They also reported better general health and more energy.

The women on the wait list for yoga classes did not experience these improvements.

Even the women who did yoga did not report less pain or disability. That may be because the study was so short, says Lung. "But six weeks did a world of good for those involved."

Sluka says that physical exercise usually takes about eight weeks to show significant effects. All kinds of exercise can help with RA, she says. "Yoga is just another form of exercise," she says.

By strengthening muscles, exercise prevents joints from moving in uncomfortable ways. And it can activate parts of the nervous system that reduce pain.

The study is not conclusive, she points out, because it is very small. Also, there is a possibility that the people in the yoga group felt better just because they were doing something to help themselves, not specifically because they were doing yoga.

But the study is still worthwhile, Sluka says. It shows people with RA they have another option for getting exercise. "Some people like to run. Some people like to lift weights. Some people like to do yoga," she says. [...]

"blocks, straps, cushions, and other props"? Hmmm. Makes me curious to know more about Iyengar yoga.

Iyengar yoga, from Wikipedia:

Iyengar Yoga, created by B. K. S. Iyengar, is a form of Hatha Yoga known for its use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. The development of strength, mobility and stability are emphasized through the asanas.

Iyengar Yoga is firmly on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.

A form of Hatha Yoga, it focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the development of asanas. Through the practice of a system of asanas, it aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being. This discipline is considered a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life which in turn can help promote total physical and spiritual well-being.[1]

Iyengar Yoga is characterized by great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment. Iyengar pioneered the use of "props" such as cushions, benches, blocks, straps and sand bags, which function as aids allowing beginners to experience asanas more easily and fully than might not otherwise be possible without several years of practice. Props also allow elderly, injured, tired or ill students to enjoy the benefits of many asanas via fully "supported" methods requiring less muscular effort.

Standing poses are emphasized in Iyengar Yoga. They are said to build strong legs, increase general vitality, and improve circulation, coordination and balance, ensuring a strong foundation for study of more advanced poses.

[...]

Iyengar also developed extensively ways of applying his practice to various ailments, diseases, and disorders. Many of these sources of suffering, such as chronic backache, immunodeficiency, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression and menopause, have specific programs of Iyengar yoga associated with them. Iyengar himself worked with patients after patients had myocardial infarctions.[2] The asanas can be adjusted based on the patient’s stage of recovery.[3] These programs are formulated in their most advanced form at the centre of Iyengar Yoga: the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute located in Pune, India. [...]

The wiki page shows some of the straps, blocks and cushions in use, to give it context. Interesting.
     

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