Our society seems to get more stressful everyday. As that happens, yoga moves from the fringe to the mainstream.
Proper yoga practice goes beyond strength and flexibility movement. Mindfulness is a major part of the exercise. What is mindfulness? It is practice of focusing your attention on the present moment and becoming acquainted with your moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
With origins in ancient India, the practices of yoga are being incorporated into treatment methodology for everything from IBD to arthritis. A 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal explored a study from the same year where people with IBS or IBD had fewer symptoms of the illnesses following a 2 month yoga plan.
The researchers found that the meditation aspect of yoga that relieves stress also inhibits the inflammation and immune system issues in people with IBD or IBS. It does this by suppressing function at the gene level. For people with IBD (of which, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two common diseases) over 1,000 genes were altered by the yoga and meditation plan. This is nearly 8 times the amount of genes impacted for people with IBS. A major difference between IBS and IBD is that IBD is a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Additional research into yoga and anxiety
Supporting the claim that research can be beneficial for mental health, a collection of researchers out of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences performed a study to measure if yoga could decrease state-specific anxiety in people with different health complications. One of the health complications considered was Crohn’s disease.
The researchers concluded that, with only 10 days of a health program aiming at reducing stress, anxiety scores could be significantly lowered. The intervention included an education program for lifestyle modification with education, yoga movements, and relaxation techniques.
While these studies and others are promising, there are still some issues with the existing literature. A review of over 35 studies notes that there do seem to be decreases in stress and yoga with yoga. But, despite these positive opportunities, many studies continue to be homogenous in sample, insufficient in size, and lack proper control conditions.
Interested in getting your yoga on?
It can be stressful (ironically!) to think about getting in to yoga. Sometimes, the best place to start can be YouTube. Check out the channel: SaraBethYoga for a ton of great videos for people of all skill levels. And, check out the one below with special insights for people with IBD and IBD!