By Matt Evans
The benefits to mindfulness and yoga just keep coming. Meditation alone has been found to reduce stress in students and confer mental health benefits similar to a holiday, while yoga makes you stronger, lengthens your muscles, improves your mobility and fights the effects of ageing.
It's long been thought mindfulness and yoga have the potential to combat serious mental health issues such as depression, but according to this new study, the practices can also help fight other severe issues such as chronic pain.
The study, published by the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, looked at patients already suffering from chronic pain and low mood. The study sought to examine participants' perceptions of pain, mood and functional capacity.
After an eight-week course of mindfulness meditation and hatha yoga, it was found 89% of participants reported the program helped them find ways to better cope with their pain. In addition, the course had bolstered their mood, helping them to feel more positive in the face of a debilitating condition.
Cynthia Marske, DO, an osteopathic physician and director of graduate medical education at the Community Health Clinics of Benton and Linn County, told ScienceDaily: "Many people have lost hope because, in most cases, chronic pain will never fully resolve. However, mindful yoga and meditation can help improve the structure and function of the body, which supports the process of healing."
Yoga and meditation is known for doing amazing things for our health and well-being, but this study suggests the practices have a place in treating chronic conditions – both physical and mental.
The course taught the participants about the concept of self-awareness, or "awareness of the self in the present moment and a nonjudgmental manner". Over time, the gentle stretching of hatha yoga and learning to approach the condition without negative judgement helped the participants to learn to manage the pain effectively in their day-to-day lives.
Both yoga and mindfulness can be harnessed as very effective healing tools. Want to get started? Check out our guide on how to meditate, which should have all the information you need to conduct your first meditation session.
You can also check out our 30-minute yoga flow, which is perfectly suited for beginners, in the video below.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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