The research: Migraine sufferers doing yoga weekly have less frequent and intense head pain after three months than a comparable group not doing the poses, a small but important study by Indian researchers found. If you have migraines, it’s best to practice as a preventive measure; once the pain strikes, yoga movements could make it worse.
Helpful yoga pose: Seated forward bend. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Inhaling, raise your arms to the ceiling and exhale, folding forward from the hips, bringing your hands towards your feet. When you’ve reached as far forward as is comfortable, relax your head, neck and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, then release.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The research: One of the first American studies documenting yoga’s ability to help specific health concerns was the University of Pennsylvania’s 1998 research published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. People with carpal tunnel syndrome who practiced yoga moves emphasizing the hand and arm joints felt much better after 8 twice-weekly sessions.
Helpful yoga pose: Prayer pose. Sit or stand in a comfortable position with your spine and head centered. Relax your shoulders. Bring your palms together, fingers extended upward, in front of your heart. Gently press your hands together for 30 seconds. If this pose feels too easy, try repeating the move with your hands behind your back.
The research: Pat Garbarg, MD, a psychiatrist and assistant clinical professor New York Medical College, was so intrigued by the power of yoga breathing that she tested it on perhaps the most anxious and depressed people around–survivors of the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami! Amazingly, after just six weeks, their depression practically disappeared, and signs of post-traumatic-stress disorder fell 60 percent. If it could work for them, imagine what it can do for run-of-the-mill mood problems.
Helpful yoga pose: Paced breathing. The breathing practices Garbarg tested were complex, but she has found that even the most basic yoga breath works wonders in her less traumatized American patients. Once or, ideally, twice a day, sit quietly and begin slowing down your breaths until inhalations and exhalations become equal in length and last roughly 6 seconds each. Continue this slow, even breathing for up to 20 minutes.
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