A blog by ordinary people about living an extraordinary life

Yoga benefits are in the mind of the beholder

As I posted about before, I have recently begun doing yoga and I can attest to its powers of increasing flexibility.  I can also attest to its ability to ease pain in my lower back, as I rarely wake up feeling sore, even after a tough workout.  I was surprised to see a story in the Wall Street Journal this week addressing the healing powers of yoga.  And I was more surprised to read the article and see that their headline was not justified from the article.

The article, entitled “Yoga may help low back pain.  Mental effects?  Not so much” ran in the Health and Wellness section on October 25.  A copy of the article can be found here:

The article discusses a recent paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine that was just published on Monday.  I admit that I have not yet read that article (I have a PDF version on my desk and plan to look it over tonight), however the end of the WSJ article states, “The study measured changes in back pain and functional status at the beginning of the study and at six weeks, 12 weeks and six months.” There is no mention of mental benefits being assessed in this study.  Now, you can draw the conclusion, and I believe this is what the authors did, that the benefits to easing low back pain are related to the stretching aspects of yoga and not specifically related to any mental benefits of yoga.  However, the title of the WSJ article could be misleading to the reader, and cause them to conclude that yoga does not offer mental benefits.

Now, I am no expert on yoga or the mental benefits it may or may not provide.  However, I can say that personally, I feel more relaxed after a good yoga workout.  I often come home from work feeling very stressed out, and even a 30-45 minute yoga workout seems to ease my stress.  I feel my breathing is more controlled, my heart rate feels lower, and I have a brighter outlook in general.  I will add, I feel you have to unplug to reap the benefits of yoga.  This means, turn off your cell phone, close down the computer, turn down the lights, and clear your mind of all the thoughts of things to do and left undone.  Yoga is your chance to get “me” time, a chance to not have to think about all the tasks at hand.  As I sit in my office and put this post together, I am looking forward to my yoga workout tonight.  It has been a busy week, with much still to do.  But I know that tonight, for at least 45 minutes, I will have a clear mind and won’t have to worry about all the things I need to do.  With that, time to get to work.


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This entry was posted on October 26, 2011 by in Peter Waterman's posts.
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