If you’ve been experiencing chronic pain or find yourself frequently feeling down, it may be time to take up yoga. While yoga and meditation may appear hard as it takes up your body’s flexibility and full concentration, it can actually benefit both mind and body.
A study from The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) courses could be a great treatment for people suffering from chronic pain and depression.
For the small-scale study, researchers conducted an MBSR course for residents in Oregon where issues of affordability, addiction, and access to care were said to be common. MBSR is said to be a systematic educational program that trains people to have “an awareness of the self in the present moment.” The participants were given intensive instructions regarding mindfulness meditation and mindful hatha yoga for a duration of eight weeks.
The results showed that 89% of the participants felt that the program helped them in finding better ways to cope with the pain while only 11% of them remained neutral. After the course, it was found that mindful meditation and yoga can improve an individual’s perceptions of pain, depression, and disability.
Researchers also found that after the study, the Patient Health Questionnaire scores, which is a standard measure for depression, had dropped by 3.7 points on a 27-point scale. Dr. Cynthia Marske said that some of the patients experienced a similar drop from when they used antidepressants.
“Chronic pain often goes hand-in-hand with depression,” added Dr. Marske. “Mindfulness-based meditation and yoga can help restore both a patient’s mental and physical health and can be effective alone or in combination with other treatments such as therapy and medication.”
“Many people have lost hope because, in most cases, chronic pain will never fully resolve,” said Dr. Marske. “However, mindful yoga and meditation can help improve the structure and function of the body, which supports the process of healing.”
Dr. Marske also further explained how curing and healing are two different things as curing involves “eliminating disease,” while healing was said to refer “to becoming more whole.”
“With chronic pain, healing involves learning to live with a level of pain this is manageable. For this, yoga and meditation can be very beneficial,” said Dr. Marske.