Hey friends & yogis! You won’t hear much from me today as I’m thrilled to share with you a guest post from Katie of the blog Find Wholeness (find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest). She is a fellow yoga-lover here to shed some light on how yoga is being used to treat serious health conditions. In addition to the many benefits of yoga that I shared in this post, yoga has been known to benefit those with PTSD, breast cancer, autism, and even dementia.
Here’s Katie to tell you more:
There is a yoga pose for everything these days, it seems, whether you need help falling asleep, want to relieve sinus congestion, or improve your digestion. It must seem almost comical to skeptics to advocate yoga for things that already have “solutions” in the world of modern medicine. Yet yoga is being used to treat an increasingly wide variety of health problems and disorders – most of them far more serious than a bellyache – at the advice of trained medical professionals.
Yoga aids breast cancer patients
More than one study has shown that yoga can aid in the wellness of women undergoing chemotherapy and who have completed treatment for breast cancer. Improvements have been reported in sleep quality, anxiety, depression, distress, quality of life, and post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting.
One such study found that the quality of life and emotional wellbeing of breast cancer outpatients who performed an hour of yoga prior to chemotherapy were significantly improved over those who received only supportive therapy. Persistent fatigue is a common problem for breast cancer survivors, and women who performed Iyengar yoga twice a week for 12 weeks reported a reduction in fatigue and depression symptoms, as well as improved vigor.
Yoga can help soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Soldiers who have been exposed to extreme stress for extended periods of time or have experienced a traumatic episode may find that their bodies can no longer regulate the parasympathetic nervous system. This means they are always in a state of “flight” response and cannot fully relax or be calm, even in a safe environment.
It has been found that the most helpful forms of yoga for PTSD are those that incorporate meditation or otherwise focus on drawing the consciousness inward. This knowledge has led to the development of specific trauma-sensitive yoga techniques for treating PTSD.
These types of combined yoga and meditation techniques are believed to reprogram the parasympathetic nervous system to function properly again.
Source: Huffington Post
Yoga for psychiatric disorders
I have dealt with anxiety on and off for most of my adult life. When I started practicing yoga in my twenties, the reduction in my anxiety level did not go unnoticed. During periods when I fall out of my practice for a while, I can feel anxiety bubbling beneath the surface almost daily once again. While my anxiety affects my mood and the way I react to things, I refuse to be medicated for it. Yoga is a wonderful alternative therapy that can be practiced inexpensively at home.
There are almost too many studies to list when it comes to using yoga to treat psychiatric conditions. Performing yoga affects cortisol levels, thus producing a stress-reducing affect that has proved useful in treating depression and anxiety. This seems to be true for all levels of the disorder, from mild anxiety on up to psychosis.
Yoga has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children, insomnia in the elderly, and psychological distress in prison inmates.
Chronic Pain Treatment With Yoga
Yoga has been investigated for treating many different types of chronic pain. In one study, patients with chronic neck pain who enlisted in a 9-week yoga program experienced pain relief and functional improvement. In another study, patients who performed yoga and stretching techniques were able to reduce the amount of pain medication they were using to treat moderate lower back pain.
Here are a few other conditions that are helped by yoga:
- Autism – According to a study at New York University, children on the autism spectrum who participated in 17 minutes of classroom yoga per day exhibited far fewer problematic behaviors than those who didn’t practice yoga.
- Multiple sclerosis – Pranayama yoga was found to assist in pain management for MS patients.
- Dementia – Elderly home residents who practiced yoga daily for 6 months experienced improvements in memory, verbal fluency, and thought processes. Other studies have shown that yoga may help prevent dementia later in life.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Because IBS often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety, it makes sense that yoga can reduce anxiety-related IBS symptoms. There are also yoga poses that directly target other symptoms, like gas and bloating.
Just the beginning
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using yoga to treat health conditions. Studies like these go to show just how empowering yoga can be in the face of a debilitating health issue. Even when one must rely heavily on modern medical treatments to get well, yoga can aid in a faster recovery or improve quality of life in those with chronic conditions.