National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Documents Benefits of Yoga in Relieving Back Pain Does yoga really relieve back pain and improve general health?

For those who have doubts about the benefits of yoga, NIH research should provide reassurance. Government studies suggest that practicing yoga has numerous health benefits, such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure and relieving anxiety and depression. In addition, scientific studies point to the fact that yoga helps provides relief to those who struggle with chronic low-back pain.

Yoga poses, carefully adapted by skilled professionals for the purpose, have been shown to reduce back pain and improve function, helping patients to walk and move with more flexibility and far less discomfort. If you suffer from ongoing low back pain that limits your mobility and interferes with your quality of life, you should consider yoga as one of your options of medical treatment. By consulting with a well-respected practice that combines Western medicine and complementary treatments, you are ensured of receiving the safest, most effective, and least invasive treatments available.

What is yoga?

Yoga, which has its roots in ancient Indian thoughts and beliefs, combines a mind/body philosophy with physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. For many people, practicing yoga not only relieves back pain, but results in improved general health and a more relaxed approach to everyday life.

Why is it important to learn yoga under the guidance of a well-trained instructor?

A practitioner of yoga is, at root, a teacher, and no one should be taught by an individual who is not knowledgeable and skilled in his or her subject. Though the risk of injury from yoga is quite low, it is always a good idea to be sure that the person teaching you a new way to think and move knows the workings of the body and mind. Your yoga practitioner should be medically trained so he or she has a working knowledge of anatomy and physiology, in order to protect you from damaging nerves or adversely affection any pre-existing medical conditions.

How widespread is the practice of yoga in the United States?

According to the 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 9.5 percent of adults (21 million people!) practiced yoga during the past year in this country. This survey shows a significant rise in yoga practice over recent years, since the percentage was 5.1 in 2002 and 6.1 in 2007. An increasing number of children are also involved in the practice of yoga.