Of course our understanding of Yoga cannot be reduced to the scrutiny of scientific study ~ and I pray that no-one that reads these pages believes that is what I am attempting to do here. Yoga is an entirely transformative enterprise while for science the quality of the person or matter is quite is irrelevant.
However, in modern practice we come upon all kinds of claims that are truly reminiscent of the old snake-oil salesmen of the Wild West! Prescriptions to do the asanas and pranayama of a particular ‘guru’ and be healed of diabetes or hypertension or even HIV, without any evidence base for such claims, are everywhere.
Indeed, Yogis seem to get pretty miffed when anyone tries to point out what the evidence actually is! The arrival of William J Broad’s book, The Science of Yoga created quite a howl of pain and exercised a number of media hours as Yogis protested its evidence. I felt the book, while a bit misguided about the intention and history of Yoga, was an honest look at what happens in Yoga classes in the modern world of mass practice.
In presenting these studies, I am simply trying to uncover, for the many fine Yoga teachers and enthusiastic practitioners, evidence of the good it does us as far as science can reveal.
That it transforms us is something we will have to experience for our ourselves, in our own lives and relationships.
To our study for this week
Every mother knows that the demands of baby and childcare on the body are considerable. Picking up, holding and carrying an infant whose weight is increasing is a tough physical ask. Added to that, the pace of a healthy toddler seems to be set at go, go, go. It’s a demanding job and when a group of scientists wanted to see the impact of this and how Yoga could help, they turned to child carers.
This study was conducted by the Department of Analytical Health Science, Tokyo Medical and Dental University in conjunction with the Department of Fundamental Nursing and Life Support of the same university, the faculty of Nursing of Yamanashi Prefectural University, Japan, the Course of Community Health Nursing, School of Nursing of Mejiro University, also Japan, among others.
The Objective : was to investigate the effect of a ‘brief, simple, home-based yoga programme on body pain and health status in child-care workers’.
The Study : the study consisted of 98 healthy female nursery school and kindergarten teachers. One group was given a DVD with a simple home-based Yoga programme and the control group did not participate in any Yoga programme.
Measurements were done after two weeks and again after 4 weeks. The measurement was a 30 item General Health Questionnaire.to score pain and physical function.
The Results : Well, great! Once again!
The 67 women in the yoga group reported a substantial decrease in menstrual pain while the women in the control experienced no such reduction.
Sleep disturbance and anxiety was considerably improved in the Yoga group while the control group showed no improvement.
Low back-pain also improved considerably in the Yoga group against the control group.
The reported outcome was, therefore, that a simple yoga program ‘may improve the health status of child-care workers’.
Well done to all the Yoga teachers that take classes for Mums ~ you’re doing great work.