Research Shows It! Viniyoga Can Help Heal Your Back!

Finally, a yoga-related news article I’m happy to pass on to you! It seems like yoga has had more than its share of bad press lately—from the New York Times article proclaiming that yoga can “wreck your body” to many recent articles that have been forwarded to me about a famous (non-viniyoga) yoga guru who has recently, shall we say, fallen from grace. 

So I was more than a little pleased when a student approached me in my Yoga for Healthy Backs class recently to say that two of her friends recently forwarded her a positive article about yoga from The Huffington Post.  This article discusses recent research showing what I’ve known for years:  that yoga, specifically viniyoga, can help overcome chronic low back pain.

The research described is the most recent in a pair of studies co-sponsored by the National Institute of Health and Group Health Cooperative.  Both studies used viniyoga—the same style taught at Whole Life Yoga, and the yoga protocols were designed by my teacher, Gary Kraftsow.  One goal of the most recent study was to see if earlier benefits of viniyoga could be replicated with a larger test group.

According to Karen Sherman, one of the study authors, they specifically chose viniyoga, because “we wanted to pick something to test that was likely to be safe and easy for beginners to practice both in classes and at home.”

The results?  Students who participated in weekly 45 – 50 minute viniyoga classes, including deep breathing and guided relaxation, experienced clinically significant improvements in low back pain and dysfunction.  And those improvements were still apparent at least 14 weeks after the end of the study.  Similar benefits were found in students who practiced weekly 52 minute stretching classes with 20 minutes of home stretching on non-class days.  Although the article does not state this, I do believe the yoga students were also given home practices. 

Researchers attribute the improvements to the physical benefits of yoga—specifically, stretching and strengthening, versus any mental benefits. So I guess all the stress reduction and emotional balance we yogis experience is just an awesome side benefit!  😉  (By the way, a recent study on viniyoga for stress reduction also showed great results, but that’s a blog article for a different day).

And on a personal note—the Group Health study specifically looked at chronic low back dysfunction that interfered with participant’s day-to-day activities.  But I can tell you from personal experience, yoga also helps with upper back and neck pain, along with a variety of other physical, physiological, and emotional issues.

If you, or someone you know, suffers from chronic low back pain, consider giving viniyoga a try! If you’re in the Seattle area, please check out Whole Life Yoga’s Yoga for Healthy Backs series.


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!

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