Yoga for the Rich, the Poor and Back Pain

Happy Friday!! I am so excited it is Friday.  Michael and I have some fun things planned this weekend, like my surprise Christmas Gift! I was told I need to dress up and am currently debating on which little black dress and heels to wear!  I also have a Jingle Bell run for Team in Training Saturday morning, yoga Sunday morning and hopefully some afternoons on the couch and napping.  Tonight we are lying low, making my favorite Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup and watching a movie.  I’ve been exhausted this week.  I am not sure why but realize I need to have some down time this weekend.  I even skipped studying this morning to get some extra rest!  What’s everyone up to this weekend?

Michael sent me a link to this article a few weeks back and I’ve been thinking about it and want to share.  The article, “Stretching the Boundaries of Yoga” was on Boston.com.  It is about a study being done at Boston Medical Center.  Most of us know by now that yoga can really help mitigate lower back pain.  There have been tons of studies about this and it had been proven that yoga does help to strengthen the low back and relieve low back pain.  It should be noted that those studies are usually done with affluent, educated, white populations.  I wrote a post about one study a while back, Can Yoga Relieve Low Back Pain?  Boston Medical Center is taking a new approach on this…

In the lobby at Boston Medical Center, they hold a yoga class for the staff and patients aimed at relieving low back pain and strengthening the low back.  The class is being used in a study to examine the use of yoga in low-income neighborhoods.

Yoga at BMC

Here are some facts from the article:

A survey of 5,050 people who practice yoga, conducted for Yoga Journal in 2008, found that 44 percent – almost half – reported annual incomes of $75,000 or more, and 24 percent said their income was higher than $100,000. Chronic low-back pain annually affects between 5 and 10 percent of all income levels of the population; low-back pain accounts for $50 billion in direct medical expenditures and is the most common cause of workers’ compensation, according to national health studies.

In these low-income areas people are fighting low-back pain in addition to other diseases such as diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety to name a few.  The article indicates that because of yoga’s mind and body connection it may be helpful for these people to relieve back pain but could also help with depression, anxiety, and other diseases as well.

The participants of the study have indicated positive effects.  One study participant takes the class twice a week and practices daily at home for 20 minutes.  She says,

“These poses put everything back in place,’’ she says. “It’s a balance issue. If I stop doing it, I have a lot of pain when I walk – and I walk everywhere.’’

The study was so effective they received funds for two more studies and have high hopes for the future.

Overall, results were encouraging, and Boston Medical researchers received a $2.7 million grant to conduct two additional studies. The first, which is currently ongoing, enrolled 96 participants in a four-month “yoga dosing’’ study that will compare once-a-week yoga classes to twice-weekly classes to find the optimum effectiveness. The classes are held at Boston Medical Center and community health centers in Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, and South Boston.

A third yearlong study begins in 2012 and will recruit 320 participants to take yoga classes for 12 weeks that will be followed by a maintenance program for half the participants. This study will compare yoga treatment to physical therapy, as well as to a control group.

“We hypothesize that yoga classes will be as effective as physical therapy, but more cost effective,’’ Saper says, adding that if research results bear this out, private, state, and federal health insurance programs might consider reimbursing yoga as a less expensive treatment.

In regards to the effects of yoga on depression and anxiety.  Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital did a study on this.  They used MRI’s to scan patients before and after yoga class and looked for a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric.  This neurotransmitter is low in people with anxiety and depression.  According to the article, they saw a 27% increase in gamma-aminobutyric after participants did a yoga session.

They did a follow-up study to this and had participants walk on a treadmill for one-hour or take yoga classes for one-hour over a period of 12-weeks.  The study found that the yoga participants had a greater increase in mood and decrease in anxiety than those who walked on the treadmill.

They do realize that yoga may not be for everyone but the effects of yoga are certainly becoming more well-known.  I encourage you to all read the article in full at Boston.com.  I think this study shows a lot of positive effects of yoga.  It can help relieve back pain, which can reduce people’s dependence on medications and reduce medical costs.  It could be a remedy for depression and anxiety and provide a treatment option that is not dependent on medications.  Again this could also help reduce medical costs.  And ultimately I think this study shows that whether you are poor, or affluent or live in a nice neighborhood or a not so nice neighborhood yoga can help us all and be an outlet to connect everyone.

Have you signed up for a yoga class this week?

Do you practice yoga?  Do you find it helps with your body’s aches and pains?  Does it boost your mood?  What are your thoughts on the study?

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7 thoughts on “Yoga for the Rich, the Poor and Back Pain

  1. My perfectly imbalanced life says:

    This was a really interesting article. I always enjoy the prospect of yoga, but when it comes to start jumbling my body into all those poses, I get so impatient and end up rushing it; strange considering how I’m always looking for things to do. I might try doing it early early in the morning or late at night; though do you think you wouldn’t notice the effects as much if you do at night since you probably burn off all the yoga-chemically-goodness during sleep? What do you think?

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    • liverunloveyoga says:

      Thanks! I think you should try it both in the morning or at night and see which works best for you. I practice in the morning and night and think it’s a difference experience for each. In the morning I feel energized for the day and at night I feel so calm and relaxed and usually sleep quite well. Either way you will definitely feel the positive effects. Try a Vinyasa class with more of an active flow. It will move faster and you might not get so impatient. I hope you give it a try again, it truly is awesome!

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  2. strawberryjamntoast says:

    As a longtime sufferer of depression and anxiety, I have only recently (in the past year) become aware of the positive benefits of exercise on my mood. My chosen forms of exercise are running and weights but after reading this post I’m definitely interested in maybe one-day trying yoga. Maybe I should make it a New Year’s resolution…

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    • liverunloveyoga says:

      I would really recommend yoga if you suffer depression and anxiety. I personally don’t suffer from those but can say that on days I feel stressed, or anxious or worried yoga is a great escape. It really calms my mind and body and allows me to re-center myself and get a better perspective. I think it’s a great New Year’s Resolution!

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  3. Victoria Runs says:

    I really enjoyed your post this morning. I really feel that incorporating health and wellness throughout lower income communities it shapes not just that community, but our nation {so much more than a blog conversation!}. It doesn’t really surprise me that the study found that yoga’s participants came from a high income bracket. I go to yoga & yogalates, but not as much as I would like. But they are through my gym. I used to go to Bikram, but some months it was cost prohibitive. I am sure in a larger city, I live in a Tier II, there would be more pocket-friendly options–maybe?

    Great article and thought reflecting follow-up! I will make sure to schedule my schedule so I can make at least one yoga a week. That is part of my NY Resolutions… that and to write more random “Thinking About You” cards! Have a great Holiday!

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    • liverunloveyoga says:

      Thank you! Yoga can be very expensive, I too take it through my gym but there is a class on the weekends I go to with my boyfriend and have to pay extra for. I’d definitely look for more pocket-friendly options…it will be dependent on your city but there should be some! Also too, yoga videos are always a good option! Have a good holiday yourself!

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