I was taking a yoga nidra workshop the other day (that's the quieting, meditative part of the practice), and as I lay in savasana pose, I reflected on all the things yoga has done for me: adding flexibility and strength to my body and a new sense of calm to my mind. I decided to check out other benefits of yoga. These studies, all presented in the past year, prove what yoginis have known all along: yoga is a powerful healer.
#1. Easing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. In a study of patients suffering from RA, those who completed 12 sessions of gentle yoga reported significant improvement in their symptoms. In a similar study, patients with fibromyalgia, which causes chronic pain, experienced an improvement in the quality of their life when they did yoga.
#2. Combatting Stress. A number of studies have shown yoga's power to diminish stress. In March, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and New York Medical College and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons hypothesized how yoga can correct an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system caused by stress, which can produce medical conditions that range from depression and anxiety to high blood pressure and heart disease.
#3. Reducing Back Pain. In a large study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 228 participants in six cities found better function and needed less pain medication when they took regular yoga classes. Interestingly, stretching classes offered similar benefits.
#4. Benefitting Women With Breast Cancer. In a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, women who were receiving radiation to treat breast cancer found a variety of benefits of yoga. They were less fatigued, had better function and lower levels of stress hormones as well as better overall health.
#5. Improving Your Kids' Mental Health. The April Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics published a study of 11<sup>th</sup> and 12<sup>th</sup> graders. Two groups were randomly assigned to either yoga or a regular gym class. At the end of the ten-week program, the yoga students scored better on a variety of psychological tests measuring mood problems and anxiety.