Research is confirming what Yoga instructors have been telling you all along: Yoga reduces illness. Harvard Researchers published this study stating that participants in Mind/Body groups which included Yoga had reduced 43% of billable encounters with health providers versus the control group which actually had a slight increase in needing to see providers.
When this study came out over a month ago, I reached out to Harvard’s John Denninger, who headed the research. “This study will create many more studies from the medical community about mind/body interventions,” Denninger said.
Participants met in groups for 1.5 hours every week for 8 weeks and did rational/emotive/behaivoral therapy as well as mind/body exercises like Tai Chi and Yoga. These Mind/Body groups were used in a series of studies.
In this study, people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) were able to reduce pain associated with their symptoms as a result of these Mind/Body groups. In another study, gene expression was measured as a result of relaxation response. The study shows that regular relaxation practices in participants yielded tremendous health benefits which included improved insulin secretion, decreased inflammation and reduction in hypertension, anxiety and insomnia.
Denninger said that because of the overwhelming evidence that the relaxation response is highly correlated to good health, he recommends that all people take of some type of mind/body practice (Yoga, Tai Chi, repetitive prayer, breathing techniques, and body scanning.) From my perspective, most of the aforementioned are part of a well rounded yoga practice that includes Asana, Pranayama, and Japa Sadhana (repetition of mantras).
The one kernel of wisdom I got from Denninger is that stress is an incredibly destructive force against our physical and psychological well-being. By taking time out each day to create a relaxation response, your body puts itself into repair mode as evidenced by these studies.
Many blessings to you John for your interview and your wisdom to bring this data to to the forefront in the medical community.