Why we summarise research that seems to have nothing to do with yoga

Why we summarise research that seems to have nothing to do with yoga

At Yoga for Pain Care Australia we summarise the growing body of evidence that shows the positive effect of yoga on persistent pain, from back pain to fibromyalgia to multiple sclerosis.

You will notice we occasionally write about research that seems to have nothing to do with yoga.

Yoga by its very nature helps with pain and research backs this up
The very nature of a complete yoga practice means it does most of the things we know are important for reducing pain: it gets people moving safely, teaches acceptance and relaxation, and improves mindfulness and focus.

Research is particularly strong for the effect yoga has on symptoms of back pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis. Now that we know the risk of chronic pain is higher in those who are (for example) psychologically distressed at the time of an accident yoga is very likely to be proven to be preventative as well.

People can’t benefit from yoga if it’s the wrong class for them
If all we needed to solve Australia’s pain challenge was evidence something reduces pain, policy makers would spend half a day reading yoga research on Pubmed and immediately allocate the $35b we spend on pain to building yoga studios and providing medicare rebates for yoga.

It’s great to see more doctors and physiotherapists referring people to yoga. However a large number of people with pain simply aren’t getting the benefits. This is for three main reasons:

  • The person is in the wrong class
  • They can’t find a right class
  • They aren’t doing it often enough

Clearly these have nothing to do with yoga itself. They are more about availability of services, self-motivation and money.

The solutions to pain care lie in the nature of human behaviour
We think the research is pretty clear that yoga (or any other body-mind lineage practice) helps with pain. What is more important is better educating teachers and health practitioners about the most appropriate class for each individual with pain, and to recognise the other factors that help people with pain do the best things for their health, often enough to see the benefits.

That’s why our research summaries cover topics like health education, psychology and social impact measurement.

Read the research summaries here or learn more about our training in community-based Yoga for Pain.

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