Yoga Practice Changes and Protects the Brain from Aging

Yoga Practice Changes and Protects the Brain from Aging

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We can talk about anxiety, depression and blood pressure lowering in yoga, all of those are proven. But the biggest thing we see that results from yoga is that your quality of life will change for the better,” – Amy Wheeler

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development, but regret their decreases during aging. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. Starting in the 20s there is a progressive decrease in the volume of the brain as we age. But the nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity.

 

Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. In addition, they have been able to investigate various techniques that might slow the process of neurodegeneration that accompanies normal aging. They’ve found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

The evidence has been accumulating. It is reasonable to pause and summarize what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Yoga Effects on Brain Health: A Systematic Review of the Current Literature.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971819/), Gothe and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of yoga practice on the brain. They found 11 published studies.

 

They report that the studies that compare the brains of yoga practitioners to non-practitioners and studies that trained participants in yoga have found increases in cortical volume and thickness particularly in the frontal cortex, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex and insula. They also found that yoga practice appears to increase the functional connectivity in a series of brain structures labelled as the default mode network. These changes are similar to those observed with other aerobic exercises. Importantly, the changes observed were mainly in the structures that are most affected by aging.

 

These findings from the currently available research studies suggest that yoga practice, like other aerobic exercises, can produce neuroplastic changes in the brain. These changes involve increases in size and function of areas that a typically seen to deteriorate with aging. This suggests that yoga practice can protect the brain from age-related deterioration. This would explain why yoga practice helps to prevent functional deterioration in the elderly.

 

These are important findings that suggest that yoga practice tends to protect or reverse age-related declines in the structure and functions of the nervous system. This could make for a healthier, happier aging process where the elderly retain cognitive abilities as they continue to age.

 

So, protect the brain from aging with yoga.

 

Using MRI scans, Villemure detected more gray matter—brain cells—in certain brain areas in people who regularly practiced yoga, as compared with control subjects.” – Stephani Sutherland

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Gothe, N. P., Khan, I., Hayes, J., Erlenbach, E., & Damoiseaux, J. S. (2019). Yoga Effects on Brain Health: A Systematic Review of the Current Literature. Brain plasticity (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 5(1), 105–122. doi:10.3233/BPL-190084

 

Abstract

Yoga is the most popular complementary health approach practiced by adults in the United States. It is an ancient mind and body practice with origins in Indian philosophy. Yoga combines physical postures, rhythmic breathing and meditative exercise to offer the practitioners a unique holistic mind-body experience. While the health benefits of physical exercise are well established, in recent years, the active attentional component of breathing and meditation practice has garnered interest among exercise neuroscientists. As the scientific evidence for the physical and mental health benefits of yoga continues to grow, this article aims to summarize the current knowledge of yoga practice and its documented positive effects for brain structure and function, as assessed with MRI, fMRI, and SPECT. We reviewed 11 studies examining the effects of yoga practice on the brain structures, function and cerebral blood flow. Collectively, the studies demonstrate a positive effect of yoga practice on the structure and/or function of the hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex and brain networks including the default mode network (DMN). The studies offer promising early evidence that behavioral interventions like yoga may hold promise to mitigate age-related and neurodegenerative declines as many of the regions identified are known to demonstrate significant age-related atrophy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971819/

 

Improve Blood Fat Levels in Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga

Improve Blood Fat Levels in Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga can do more than just relax your body in mind — especially if you’re living with diabetes. Certain poses may help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels while also improving circulation, leading many experts to recommend yoga for diabetes management.” – Healthline

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. A mindfulness practice that combines mindfulness with exercise is yoga and it has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Type II Diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of a Validated Yoga Protocol on Dyslipidemia in Diabetes Patients: NMB-2017 India Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6963794/), Nagarathna and colleagues recruited a stratified sample of adult patients with Type 2 Diabetes and assigned them to receive yoga training that was specifically designed for the treatment of diabetes and consisted of 9 days of 2-hour training sessions followed by daily 1-hour practice at home guided by DVD. They were measured before training and 3 months later for body size and blood was drawn and assayed for fasting blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, VLDL, and HDL.

 

They found that in both male and female patients with Dyslipidemia (high blood fat levels) there was a significant decrease in the total blood fat levels produced by participation in the yoga program. This included significant decreases in triglycerides, LDL, and VLDL. These improvements were significantly greater in patients from rural areas than those from urban areas. Around two thirds of the patients with Dyslipidemia had their blood fat levels returned to normal levels after yoga practice.

 

These results are interesting but the lack of a comparison (control) conditions limits their significance. But prior controlled studies have shown the yoga practice produces significant improvements in the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. So, the present results likely also reflect the effects of yoga practice and not a confounding variable.

 

The results suggest that yoga practice can reduce Dyslipidemia in Type 2 Diabetes patients. It would be useful to follow up these patients to see if the treatment improves the patients’ overall health and reduces heart disease. The reduction in Dyslipidemia would predict such benefits.

 

So, improve blood fat levels in Type 2 Diabetes with yoga.

 

findings suggest that yogic practices may promote significant improvements in several indices of importance in [Type 2 Diabetes] management, including glycemic control, lipid levels, and body composition.” – Kim Innes

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Nagarathna, R., Tyagi, R., Kaur, G., Vendan, V., Acharya, I. N., Anand, A., … Nagendra, H. R. (2019). Efficacy of a Validated Yoga Protocol on Dyslipidemia in Diabetes Patients: NMB-2017 India Trial. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), 6(4), 100. doi:10.3390/medicines6040100

 

Abstract

Background: Dyslipidemia is considered a risk factor in Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) resulting in cardio-vascular complications. Yoga practices have shown promising results in alleviating Type 2 Diabetes pathology. Method: In this stratified trial on a Yoga based lifestyle program in cases with Type 2 diabetes, in the rural and urban population from all zones of India, a total of 17,012 adults (>20 years) of both genders were screened for lipid profile and sugar levels. Those who satisfied the selection criteria were taught the Diabetes Yoga Protocol (DYP) for three months and the data were analyzed. Results: Among those with Diabetes, 29.1% had elevated total cholesterol (TC > 200 mg/dL) levels that were higher in urban (69%) than rural (31%) Diabetes patients. There was a positive correlation (p = 0.048) between HbA1c and total cholesterol levels. DYP intervention helped in reducing TC from 232.34 ± 31.48 mg/dL to 189.38 ± 40.23 mg/dL with significant pre post difference (p < 0.001). Conversion rate from high TC (>200 mg/dL) to normal TC (<200 mg/dL) was observed in 60.3% of cases with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM); from high LDL (>130 mg/dL) to normal LDL (<130 mg/dL) in 73.7%; from high triglyceride (>200 mg/dL) to normal triglyceride level (<200 mg/dL) in 63%; from low HDL (<45 mg/dL) to normal HDL (>45 mg/dL) in 43.7% of T2DM patients after three months of DYP. Conclusions: A Yoga lifestyle program designed specifically to manage Diabetes helps in reducing the co-morbidity of dyslipidemia in cases of patients with T2DM.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6963794/

 

Improve Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with Kundalini Yoga Meditation

Improve Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with Kundalini Yoga Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation had “a significant and large effect” on OCD symptoms, specifically on thought-action fusion (again, the belief that having a thought is the same as acting on the thought), and the ability to “let go” of unwanted thoughts.” – Jon Hershfield

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) sufferer have repetitive anxiety producing intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that result in repetitive behaviors to reduce the anxiety (compulsions). In a typical example of OCD, the individual is concerned about germs and is unable to control the anxiety that these thoughts produce. Their solution is to engage in ritualized behaviors, such as repetitive cleaning or hand washing that for a short time relieves the anxiety. The obsessions and compulsions can become so frequent that they become a dominant theme in their lives. Hence OCD drastically reduces the quality of life and happiness of the sufferer and those around them. About 2% of the population, 3.3 million people in the U.S., are affected at some time in their life.

Fortunately, OCD can be treated and mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating OCD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Kundalini Yoga Meditation Versus the Relaxation Response Meditation for Treating Adults With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6859828/), Shannahoff-Khalsa and colleagues recruited healthy adults diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who did not respond to first line therapies. They were randomly assigned to weekly 2-hour trainings for 4.5 months of either Kundalini Yoga meditation or relaxation response meditation. They were instructed to practice at home for an hour daily. Kundalini Yoga meditation is a combination of exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises. Relaxation response meditations employs various techniques to produce deep muscle relaxation. After the 4.5-month period, the groups were combined and all participants practiced Kundalini Yoga meditation for 7.5 months. The participants were measured before and after the 4.5-month training and at 1 year for OCD symptoms, OCD severity, anxiety, depression, mood states, and physical and mental health.

 

They found that in comparison to relaxation response meditation the participants who practiced Kundalini Yoga meditation had significantly greater reductions in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms and severity, anxiety, depression, and mood states. The improvements were continued over the 1-year practice period. In addition, the participants who practiced Kundalini Yoga meditation had significantly higher (31%) OCD remission rates.

 

The patients in this study had not previously responded to treatment with drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy, or exposure and response prevention therapy. The present results suggest that Kundalini Yoga meditation is a safe and effective treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in these patients who were unresponsive to other OCD therapies. Future studies are needed to compare Kundalini Yoga meditation to first line treatments for OCD.

 

So, improve Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with Kundalini Yoga Meditation.

 

Mindfulness is a useful technique for decreasing anxiety because of its emphasis on accepting your thoughts. When an intrusive thought pops up, you let it exist in your mind without providing it any weight. You experience the thought, but don’t judge it, change it or try to make it go away. You wait until it passes instead of thinking it should or shouldn’t be there.” – IntrusiveThoughts.org

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D., Fernandes, R. Y., Pereira, C., March, J. S., Leckman, J. F., Golshan, S., … Shavitt, R. G. (2019). Kundalini Yoga Meditation Versus the Relaxation Response Meditation for Treating Adults With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 793. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00793

 

Abstract

Background: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often a life-long disorder with high psychosocial impairment. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are the only FDA approved drugs, and approximately 50% of patients are non-responders when using a criterion of 25% to 35% improvement with the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). About 30% are non-responders to combined first-line therapies (SRIs and exposure and response prevention). Previous research (one open, one randomized clinical trial) has demonstrated that Kundalini Yoga (KY) meditation can lead to an improvement in symptoms of obsessive-compulsive severity. We expand here with a larger trial.

Design: This trial compared two parallel run groups [KY vs. Relaxation Response meditation (RR)]. Patients were randomly allocated based on gender and Y-BOCS scores. They were told two different (unnamed) types of meditation would be compared, and informed if one showed greater benefits, the groups would merge for 12 months using the more effective intervention. Raters were blind in Phase One (0–4.5 months) to patient assignments, but not in Phase Two.

Main Outcome Measures: Primary outcome variable, clinician-administered Y-BOCS. Secondary scales: Dimensional Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (clinician-administered), Profile of Mood Scales, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, Clinical Global Impression, Short Form 36 Health Survey.

Results: Phase One: Baseline Y-BOCS scores: KY mean = 26.46 (SD 5.124; N = 24), RR mean = 26.79 (SD = 4.578; N = 24). An intent-to-treat analysis with the last observation carried forward for dropouts showed statistically greater improvement with KY compared to RR on the Y-BOCS, and statistically greater improvement on five of six secondary measures. For completers, the Y-BOCS showed 40.4% improvement for KY (N = 16), 17.9% for RR (N = 11); 31.3% in KY were judged to be in remission compared to 9.1% in RR. KY completers showed greater improvement on five of six secondary measures. At the end of Phase Two (12 months), patients, drawn from the initial groups, who elected to receive KY continued to show improvement in their Y-BOCS scores.

Conclusion: KY shows promise as an add-on option for OCD patients unresponsive to first line therapies. Future studies will establish KY’s relative efficacy compared to Exposure and Response Prevention and/or medications, and the most effective treatment schedule.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6859828/

 

Further Improve Depression Treated with Drugs and Counseling with Yoga

Further Improve Depression Treated with Drugs and Counseling with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

I feel like the creator of my own reality, rather than the victim of my own circumstance. Yoga has also allowed me to form healthy boundaries and relationships without the highs and the lows.” – Kacey DeGuardia

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering.

 

Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.  Another effective alternative treatment is exercise. But it is difficult to get depressed people, who lack energy, to engage in regular exercise. Yoga is a contemplative practice that is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression. So, it makes sense to further study the effectiveness of yoga for depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of adjunct yoga therapy in depressive disorders: Findings from a randomized controlled study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6862972/), Kumar and colleagues recruited adult patients diagnosed with depression and randomly assigned them to either receive standard treatment or standard treatment plus yoga therapy. Standard treatment included antidepressant medication and counseling. Yoga therapy sessions included training in breath awareness, postures, and mindful relaxation and occurred 5 times per week for 45 minutes for 4 weeks. They were measured before, during, and after treatment for depression, anxiety, depression severity, and clinical improvement.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual control condition, the group who received yoga therapy had significantly decreased depression, anxiety, and depression severity, and a significant increase in clinical improvement. These results are encouraging and suggest that yoga therapy works to improve depression even in patients continuing to receive drugs and counseling.

 

Yoga therapy is a complex technique including training in breath awareness, various postures, and mindful relaxation. Future research needs to examine which of these components or combination of components of the yoga therapy program are necessary and sufficient for the improvement. In addition, there’s a need to study the long-term effectiveness of yoga therapy. The results, however, suggest that yoga therapy is safe and effective as an adjunctive treatment for depression producing further improvements.

 

So, further improve depression treated with drugs and counseling with yoga.

 

That yoga seems to be effective is good news for people struggling with depression. . . . the practice has far fewer side effects and potential drug interactions than mood-altering medications.” – Amanda MacMillan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kumar, S., Subramaniam, E., Bhavanani, A. B., Sarkar, S., & Balasundaram, S. (2019). Effect of adjunct yoga therapy in depressive disorders: Findings from a randomized controlled study. Indian journal of psychiatry, 61(6), 592–597. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_173_19

 

Abstract

Background:

Depression causes significant burden both to the individual and to society, and its treatment by antidepressants has various disadvantages. There is preliminary evidence that adds on yoga therapy improves depression by impacting the neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood, motivation, and pleasure. Our study aimed to find the effect of adjunctive yoga therapy on outcome of depression and comorbid anxiety.

Materials and Methods:

A randomized controlled study involving patients with major depressive disorder (n = 80) were allocated to two groups, one received standard therapy (antidepressants and counseling) and the other received adjunct yoga therapy along with standard therapy. Ratings of depression and anxiety were done using Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale at baseline, 10th and 30th day. Clinical Global Impression (CGI) Scale was applied at baseline and 30th day to view the severity of illness and clinical improvement.

Results:

By the 30th day, individuals in the yoga group had significantly lower scores of depression, anxiety, and CGI scores, in comparison to the control group. The individuals in the yoga group had a significant fall in depression scores and significant clinical improvement, compared to the control group, from baseline to 30th day and 10th to 30th day. In addition, the individuals in the yoga group had a significant fall in anxiety scores from baseline to 10th day.

Conclusion:

Anxiety starts to improve with short-term yoga sessions, while long-term yoga therapy is likely to be beneficial in the treatment of depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6862972/

 

Reduce Incontinence in Women with Yoga

Reduce Incontinence in Women with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The pelvic floor is an instrumental player in the health and function of your bladder. Specifically, the perineum and the dynamic layers of muscle that compromise the inner pelvis, which are active in the passage of urine and control of the bladder. If you do experience leaks . . . strengthening your perineum with yoga will isolate the muscle, only furthering your ability to reduce leaks caused by incontinence.” – TENA

 

Urinary incontinence is common, particularly in women, and involves an involuntary loss of urine. This can range from slightly bothersome to debilitating. Possible public humiliation results in many women refraining from otherwise enjoyable public activities. This occurs due to problems with nerves and weakening of muscles that normally hold or discharge urine. Urinary incontinence occurs in about 10% of women and 2% of men under age 65 and 35% of women and 22% of men over age 65. Treatment can involve exercise, drugs, electrical stimulation, or even surgery.

 

Effective exercises for urinary incontinence strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. Yoga is a gentle exercise with a number of poses that strengthen the pelvic floor. In addition, yoga practice increases body awareness helping the individual to better sense and control the muscles involved. Also, yoga can reduce anxiety and stress which can contribute to urinary incontinence. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the application of yoga exercises for the treatment of urinary incontinence.

 

In today’s Research News article “A group-based yoga program for urinary incontinence in ambulatory women: feasibility, tolerability, and change in incontinence frequency over 3 months in a single-center randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314206/?report=classic), Huang and colleagues recruited older women (> 50 years of age) who had urinary incontinence and provided them with a “written pamphlet providing basic patient-directed information about behavioral self-management of incontinence (such as pelvic floor exercises and timed urination) consistent with usual first-line care.” They were randomly assigned them to either receive additional 3 months, twice a week for 90 minutes, of yoga training or non-specific muscle stretching and strengthening. They were also asked to practice at home for an hour at least once a week. The yoga poses taught were selected to improve bladder control. They were measured before and after training for safety, feasibility, frequency of incontinence, and incontinence quality of life.

 

They found that over the 3-month program incontinence decreased by 76% in the yoga group and 56% in the exercise group, stress induced incontinence decreased by 61% in the yoga group and 35% in the exercise group. Group differences were not statistically significant. Participation rates were high and no serious adverse events were reported.

 

Yoga training produced on average superior results to the exercise program the lack of a statistically significant difference does not allow definitive conclusions. Yoga practice has been shown to reduce the effects of stress on the individual. So, the reduction in stress induced incontinence would be expected. Hence, the results make it clear that yoga training is a feasible, safe, and effective treatment for urinary incontinence in older women.

 

So, reduce incontinence in women with yoga.

 

yoga can help women who suffer from urinary incontinence by improving pelvic health and help gain more control over their bladders.“ – Attends

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Huang, A. J., Chesney, M., Lisha, N., Vittinghoff, E., Schembri, M., Pawlowsky, S., … Subak, L. (2019). A group-based yoga program for urinary incontinence in ambulatory women: feasibility, tolerability, and change in incontinence frequency over 3 months in a single-center randomized trial. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 220(1), 87.e1–87.e13. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2018.10.031

 

Structured Abstract

Background:

Due to the limitations of existing clinical treatments for urinary incontinence, many women with incontinence are interested in complementary strategies for managing their symptoms. Yoga has been recommended as a behavioral self-management strategy for incontinence, but evidence of its feasibility, tolerability, and efficacy is lacking.

Objectives:

To evaluate the feasibility and tolerability of a group-based therapeutic yoga program for ambulatory middle-aged and older women with incontinence and examine preliminary changes in incontinence frequency as the primary efficacy outcome after 3 months.

Study Design:

Ambulatory women aged 50 years or older who reported at least daily stress-, urgency-, or mixed-type incontinence, were not already engaged in yoga, and were temporarily willing to forgo clinical incontinence treatments were recruited into a randomized trial in the San Francisco Bay area. Women were randomly assigned to take part in a program of twice weekly group classes and once weekly home practice focused on Iyengar-based yoga techniques selected by an expert yoga panel (yoga group) or a non-specific muscle stretching and strengthening program designed to provide a rigorous time-and-attention control (control group) for 3 months. All participants also received written, evidence-based information about behavioral incontinence self-management techniques (pelvic floor exercises, bladder training) consistent with usual first-line care. Incontinence frequency and type were assessed by validated voiding diaries. Analysis of covariance models examined within- and between-group changes in incontinence frequency as the primary efficacy outcome over 3 months.

Results:

Of the 56 women randomized (28 to yoga, 28 to control), mean age was 65.4 (±8.1) years (range 55–83 years), mean baseline incontinence frequency was 3.5 (±2.0) episodes/day, and 37 (66%) had urgency-predominant incontinence. Fifty women completed their assigned 3-month intervention program (89%), including 27 in the yoga and 23 in the control group (P=0.19). Of those, 24 (89%) in the yoga and 20 (87%) in the control group attended at least 80% of group classes. Over 3 months, total incontinence frequency decreased by an average of 76% from baseline in the yoga and 56% in the control group (P=0.07 for between-group difference). Stress incontinence frequency also decreased by an average of 61% in the yoga group and 35% in controls (P=0.045 for between-group difference), but changes in urgency incontinence frequency did not differ significantly between groups. Forty-eight non-serious adverse events were reported, including 23 in the yoga and 25 in the control group, but none were directly attributable to yoga or control program practice.

Conclusions:

Findings demonstrate the feasibility of recruiting and retaining incontinent women across the aging spectrum into a therapeutic yoga program and provide preliminary evidence of reduction in total and stress-type incontinence frequency after 3 months of yoga practice. When taught with attention to women’s clinical needs, yoga may offer a potential community-based behavioral self-management strategy for incontinence to enhance clinical treatment, although future research should assess whether yoga offers unique benefits for incontinence above and beyond other physical activity-based interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314206/?report=classic

 

Improve Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis with Exercise and Mind-Body Practices

Improve Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis with Exercise and Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

studies suggest that specific mind-body therapies may help reduce pain and improve physical function in persons with osteoarthritis of the knee.” – Terry Selfe

 

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease that is the most common form of arthritis. It produces pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., with about 43% of arthritis sufferers limited in mobility and about a third having limitations that affect their ability to perform their work. Knee osteoarthritis effects 5% of adults over 25 years of age and 12% of those over 65. Hip osteoarthritis effects 9% of adults. It is painful and disabling. Its causes are varied including, hereditary, injury including sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries, infection, or from being overweight.

 

There are no cures for knee or hip osteoarthritis. Treatments are primarily symptomatic, including weight loss, exercise, braces, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, arthroscopic knee surgery, or even knee or hip replacement. Gentle movements of the joints with exercise and physical therapy appear to be helpful in the treatment of knee or hip osteoarthritis. This suggests that alternative and mind-body practices that involve gentle knee movements may be useful in for treatment. Indeed, yoga practice has been shown to be effective in treating arthritis and Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to reduce the physical symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. So, it would seem reasonable to summarize the research into the effectiveness of mind-body practices relative to other exercises in treating knee or hip osteoarthritis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Relative Efficacy of Different Exercises for Pain, Function, Performance and Quality of Life in Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459784/), Goh and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of mind-body practices and exercise on knee or hip osteoarthritis. They found 103 controlled trials including a total of 9134 participants. Exercises were separated in strengthening, aerobic, and flexibility exercises and movements combined with mindfulness (e.g. yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong); mind-body practices. Most studies (76) compared these practices versus usual medical care.

 

They report that the published research studies found that in comparison to usual care, all exercises produced significant benefits including reduced pain, improved movement performance, self-reported motor abilities, and quality of life. These benefits were greater for knee osteoarthritis than for hip osteoarthritis. Of the various exercises they found that in general aerobic exercise produced the greatest benefits for pain and movement performance, while mind-body practices had equivalent benefit for pain and produced the greatest benefits for self-reported motor abilities.

 

These results confirm that exercise is good for patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis, improving movement and quality of life and reducing pain. It appears that aerobic exercises and mind-body exercises produce the greatest benefits. This suggests that these practices be recommended for patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis to reduce their difficulties with movement and reduce their suffering.

 

So, improve knee and hip osteoarthritis with exercise and mind-body practices.

 

We don’t choose to have arthritis, but we can choose how to respond to and cope with it. By not allowing pain to define our lives, we can change how we view and relate to pain. That’s mindfulness – we are changing our feelings and thoughts around pain.” – Andrea Minick Rudolph

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Goh, S. L., Persson, M., Stocks, J., Hou, Y., Welton, N. J., Lin, J., … Zhang, W. (2019). Relative Efficacy of Different Exercises for Pain, Function, Performance and Quality of Life in Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 49(5), 743–761. doi:10.1007/s40279-019-01082-0

 

Abstract

Background

Guidelines recommend exercise as a core treatment for osteoarthritis (OA). However, it is unclear which type of exercise is most effective, leading to inconsistency between different recommendations.

Objectives

The aim of this systematic review and network meta-analysis was to investigate the relative efficacy of different exercises (aerobic, mind–body, strengthening, flexibility/skill, or mixed) for improving pain, function, performance and quality of life (QoL) for knee and hip OA at, or nearest to, 8 weeks.

Methods

We searched nine electronic databases up until December 2017 for randomised controlled trials that compared exercise with usual care or with another exercise type. Bayesian network meta-analysis was used to estimate the relative effect size (ES) and corresponding 95% credibility interval (CrI) (PROSPERO registration: CRD42016033865).

Findings

We identified and analysed 103 trials (9134 participants). Aerobic exercise was most beneficial for pain (ES 1.11; 95% CrI 0.69, 1.54) and performance (1.05; 0.63, 1.48). Mind–body exercise, which had pain benefit equivalent to that of aerobic exercise (1.11; 0.63, 1.59), was the best for function (0.81; 0.27, 1.36). Strengthening and flexibility/skill exercises improved multiple outcomes at a moderate level. Mixed exercise was the least effective for all outcomes and had significantly less pain relief than aerobic and mind–body exercises. The trend was significant for pain (p = 0.01), but not for function (p = 0.07), performance (p = 0.06) or QoL (p = 0.65).

Conclusion

The effect of exercise varies according to the type of exercise and target outcome. Aerobic or mind–body exercise may be the best for pain and function improvements. Strengthening and flexibility/skill exercises may be used for multiple outcomes. Mixed exercise is the least effective and the reason for this merits further investigation.

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (10.1007/s40279-019-01082-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Background

Guidelines recommend exercise as a core treatment for osteoarthritis (OA). However, it is unclear which type of exercise is most effective, leading to inconsistency between different recommendations.

Objectives

The aim of this systematic review and network meta-analysis was to investigate the relative efficacy of different exercises (aerobic, mind–body, strengthening, flexibility/skill, or mixed) for improving pain, function, performance and quality of life (QoL) for knee and hip OA at, or nearest to, 8 weeks.

Methods

We searched nine electronic databases up until December 2017 for randomised controlled trials that compared exercise with usual care or with another exercise type. Bayesian network meta-analysis was used to estimate the relative effect size (ES) and corresponding 95% credibility interval (CrI) (PROSPERO registration: CRD42016033865).

Findings

We identified and analysed 103 trials (9134 participants). Aerobic exercise was most beneficial for pain (ES 1.11; 95% CrI 0.69, 1.54) and performance (1.05; 0.63, 1.48). Mind–body exercise, which had pain benefit equivalent to that of aerobic exercise (1.11; 0.63, 1.59), was the best for function (0.81; 0.27, 1.36). Strengthening and flexibility/skill exercises improved multiple outcomes at a moderate level. Mixed exercise was the least effective for all outcomes and had significantly less pain relief than aerobic and mind–body exercises. The trend was significant for pain (p = 0.01), but not for function (p = 0.07), performance (p = 0.06) or QoL (p = 0.65).

Conclusion

The effect of exercise varies according to the type of exercise and target outcome. Aerobic or mind–body exercise may be the best for pain and function improvements. Strengthening and flexibility/skill exercises may be used for multiple outcomes. Mixed exercise is the least effective and the reason for this merits further investigation.

Key Points

The effect of exercise in knee and hip osteoarthritis depends on type of exercise and outcome of interest.
Aerobic and mind–body exercises appear to be the two most effective exercise therapies for pain and function, whereas strengthening and flexibility exercises appear to be good for moderate improvement of multiple outcomes.
Mixed exercise is the least effective exercise. However, it may be used for patients who do not respond to other types of exercise therapy because it is still better than no exercise control for all four patient-centred outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459784/

 

Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment can learn to practice mindfulness meditation, and by doing so may boost their cognitive reserve.” – Rebecca Erwin Wells

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our cognitive (mental) abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging.

 

The research findings are accumulating suggesting that a summarization of what has been learned is called for. In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mind-Body Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313783/), Zhang and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled studies (RCTs) of the effectiveness of the mind-body practices of yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong, and Pilates to improve cognitive performance in the elderly (aged 60 and over).

 

They identified 19 published RCTs that included a total of 2539 participants. They report that the published studies reveal a significant, albeit small, improvement in global cognitive function after mind-body practices. This included significant improvements in executive function, language ability, memory, and visuospatial ability. They also report that the amount of improvement was significantly related to the amount of mind-body exercise training. Interestingly, the effects appear to be better in elderly without any signs of dementia than in those with mild dementia symptoms.

 

The findings based upon a fair number of well-controlled studies are relatively consistent revealing that mind-body practices are safe and effective in improving cognitive function in individuals over 60 years of age. This suggests that engaging in these practices can reduce the decline in mental abilities occurring with aging. This suggests that engaging in yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong, or Pilates practices should be recommended for people over 60 years of age.

 

So, improve cognitive function in the elderly with mind-body practices.

 

engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained.” – Grace Bullock

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zhang, Y., Li, C., Zou, L., Liu, X., & Song, W. (2018). The Effects of Mind-Body Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(12), 2791. doi:10.3390/ijerph15122791

 

Abstract

Background: As the situation of cognitive aging is getting worse, preventing or treating cognitive decline through effective strategies is highly important. This systematic review aims to investigate whether mind-body exercise is an effective approach for treating cognition decline. Methods: Searches for the potential studies were performed on the eight electronic databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, PsycArtilces, CNKI, and Wanfang). Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effect of mind-body exercise on cognitive performance in older adults were included. Data were extracted and effect sizes were pooled with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using random-effects models. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database Scale was employed to examine the study quality. Results: Nineteen RCTs including 2539 elders (67.3% female) with fair to good study quality were identified. Mind-body exercise, relative to control intervention, showed significant benefits on cognitive performance, global cognition (Hedges’g = 0.23), executive functions (Hedges’g = 0.25 to 0.65), learning and memory (Hedges’g = 0.37 to 0.49), and language (Hedges’g = 0.35). In addition, no significant adverse events were reported. Conclusion: Mind-body exercise may be a safe and effective intervention for enhancing cognitive function among people aged 60 years or older. Further research evidence is still needed to make a more conclusive statement.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313783/

 

Help Relieve Asthma Symptoms with Yoga

Help Relieve Asthma Symptoms with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga can help increase breath and body awareness, slow your respiratory rate, and promote calm and relieve stress — all of which are beneficial for people who have asthma.” – Judi Bar

 

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that involves a persistent inflammation of the airways. When the inflammation worsens, it makes it more difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs provoking coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide and 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma and the incidence appears to be growing. In the U.S.it is estimated to cost $60 billion per year in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Asthma is the most common chronic disease in the world among children with about 10% of children suffering from asthma.

 

Asthma is not fatal and those with moderate asthma have an equivalent life expectancy to those that don’t. There is no cure for asthma. So, it is a chronic disease that must be coped with throughout the lifetime. Treatments are aimed at symptomatic relief. Most frequently drugs, anti-inflammatory hormones, and inhalers are used to help control the inflammation. Exercise can be difficult with asthma and may actually precipitate an attack. This can be a problem as maintaining fitness with asthma can be difficult. A relatively gentle form of exercise, yoga practice can be practiced without heavy breathing and thus may not provoke asthma. In addition, breathing exercises like those incorporated into yoga practice are known to help control asthma. This suggests that yoga practice may be a helpful exercise for people with asthma.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga for asthma.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6880926/), Yang and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga practice for the treatment of asthma. They found 15 randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

 

They report that the research found that yoga practice produced a significant improvement in the asthma patients’ symptoms, control of asthma, and quality of life and a significant reduction in asthma medication use. In terms of lung function, the research found that yoga practice produced significant improvements in forced vital capacity and peak expiratory flow rate.

 

Hence, yoga practice appears to be beneficial for asthma patients, improving lung function, asthma symptoms, drug use, and improving the patient’s quality of life. There were no recorded adverse events associated with the yoga practice. This is important as exercise is often difficult for asthma patients. Yoga practice appears to be feasible and well tolerated and beneficial for asthma patients.

 

So, help relieve asthma symptoms with yoga.

 

Having asthma means it can be a struggle to breathe properly, but yoga involves learning how to breathe deeply in and out through the nose to filter the air, and find a natural, balanced breathing pattern. Over time this helps to increase lung capacity and gives you more control of your breathing day-to-day.” – Julia White

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yang, Z. Y., Zhong, H. B., Mao, C., Yuan, J. Q., Huang, Y. F., Wu, X. Y., … Tang, J. L. (2016). Yoga for asthma. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 4(4), CD010346. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010346.pub2

 

Abstract

Background

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disorder affecting about 300 million people worldwide. As a holistic therapy, yoga has the potential to relieve both the physical and psychological suffering of people with asthma, and its popularity has expanded globally. A number of clinical trials have been carried out to evaluate the effects of yoga practice, with inconsistent results.

Objectives

To assess the effects of yoga in people with asthma.

Search methods

We systematically searched the Cochrane Airways Group Register of Trials, which is derived from systematic searches of bibliographic databases including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, and PsycINFO, and handsearching of respiratory journals and meeting abstracts. We also searched PEDro. We searched ClinicalTrials.gov and the WHO ICTRP search portal. We searched all databases from their inception to 22 July 2015, and used no restriction on language of publication. We checked the reference lists of eligible studies and relevant review articles for additional studies. We attempted to contact investigators of eligible studies and experts in the field to learn of other published and unpublished studies.

Selection criteria

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared yoga with usual care (or no intervention) or sham intervention in people with asthma and reported at least one of the following outcomes: quality of life, asthma symptom score, asthma control, lung function measures, asthma medication usage, and adverse events.

Data collection and analysis

We extracted bibliographic information, characteristics of participants, characteristics of interventions and controls, characteristics of methodology, and results for the outcomes of our interest from eligible studies. For continuous outcomes, we used mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) to denote the treatment effects, if the outcomes were measured by the same scale across studies. Alternatively, if the outcomes were measured by different scales across studies, we used standardised mean difference (SMD) with 95% CI. For dichotomous outcomes, we used risk ratio (RR) with 95% CI to measure the treatment effects. We performed meta‐analysis with Review Manager 5.3. We used the fixed‐effect model to pool the data, unless there was substantial heterogeneity among studies, in which case we used the random‐effects model instead. For outcomes inappropriate or impossible to pool quantitatively, we conducted a descriptive analysis and summarised the findings narratively.

Main results

We included 15 RCTs with a total of 1048 participants. Most of the trials were conducted in India, followed by Europe and the United States. The majority of participants were adults of both sexes with mild to moderate asthma for six months to more than 23 years. Five studies included yoga breathing alone, while the other studies assessed yoga interventions that included breathing, posture, and meditation. Interventions lasted from two weeks to 54 months, for no more than six months in the majority of studies. The risk of bias was low across all domains in one study and unclear or high in at least one domain for the remainder.

There was some evidence that yoga may improve quality of life (MD in Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ) score per item 0.57 units on a 7‐point scale, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.77; 5 studies; 375 participants), improve symptoms (SMD 0.37, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.65; 3 studies; 243 participants), and reduce medication usage (RR 5.35, 95% CI 1.29 to 22.11; 2 studies) in people with asthma. The MD for AQLQ score exceeded the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) of 0.5, but whether the mean changes exceeded the MCID for asthma symptoms is uncertain due to the lack of an established MCID in the severity scores used in the included studies. The effects of yoga on change from baseline forced expiratory volume in one second (MD 0.04 litres, 95% CI ‐0.10 to 0.19; 7 studies; 340 participants; I2 = 68%) were not statistically significant. Two studies indicated improved asthma control, but due to very significant heterogeneity (I2 = 98%) we did not pool data. No serious adverse events associated with yoga were reported, but the data on this outcome was limited.

Authors’ conclusions

We found moderate‐quality evidence that yoga probably leads to small improvements in quality of life and symptoms in people with asthma. There is more uncertainty about potential adverse effects of yoga and its impact on lung function and medication usage. RCTs with a large sample size and high methodological and reporting quality are needed to confirm the effects of yoga for asthma.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6880926/

 

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Experienced meditators agree: a daily meditation practice can have significant benefits for mental and physical health. But one thing they probably won’t agree on? The most effective types of meditation. That’s simply because it’s different for everyone. After all, there are literally hundreds of meditation techniques encompassing practices from different traditions, cultures, spiritual disciplines, and religions.” Headspace

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. Transcendental meditation is a silent mantra-based focused meditation in which a word or phrase is repeated over and over again. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

But there are a number of techniques that do not fall into these categories and even within these categories there are a number of large variations. In today’s Research News article “What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/), Matko and colleagues attempt to develop a more comprehensive system of classification. They found 309 different techniques but reduced them down to the 20 most popular ones. They recruited 100 meditators with at least 2 years of experience and asked them to rate how similar each technique was to every other technique.

 

They applied multidimensional scaling to the data which uncovered two dimensions that adequately described all of the 20 techniques. The analysis revealed a dimension of the amount of activation involved and a dimension of the amount of body orientation involved. All 20 techniques were classified within these two dimensions. Visual inspection of where the various techniques fell on the two dimensions produces 7 different clusters labelled as “(1) Body-centered meditation, (2) mindful observation, (3) contemplation, (4) mantra meditation, (5) visual concentration, (6) affect-centered meditation, and (7) meditation with movement.”

 

Within the high activation and low body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “Mantra Meditation” including singing sutras/mantras/invocations, repeating syllables and meditation with sounds. Within the low activation and low body orientation quadrant there were three clusters identified, labelled “affect-centered meditation” including cultivating compassion and opening up to blessings; “visual orientations” including visualizations and concentrating on an object; and “contemplation” including contemplating on a question and contradictions or paradoxes.

 

Within the high activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “meditation with movement” including “meditation with movement, manipulating the breath, and walking and observing senses. Within the low activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “mindful observation” including observing thoughts, lying meditation, and sitting in silence. Finally, they identified a cluster with high body but straddling the activation dimension, labelled “body centered meditation” including concentrating on a energy centers or channeling, body scan, abdominal breath, nostril breath, and observing the body.

 

This 7-category classification system is interesting and based upon the ratings of experienced meditators. So, there is reason to believe that there is a degree of validity. In addition, the system is able to encompass 20 different popular meditation techniques. It remains for future research to investigate whether this classification system is useful in better understanding the effects of meditation or the underlying brain systems.

 

Not all meditation styles are right for everyone. These practices require different skills and mindsets. How do you know which practice is right for you? “It’s what feels comfortable and what you feel encouraged to practice,” – Mira Dessy

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Matko, K., & Sedlmeier, P. (2019). What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2276. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02276

 

Abstract

Meditation is an umbrella term, which subsumes a huge number of diverse practices. It is still unclear how these practices can be classified in a reasonable way. Earlier proposals have struggled to do justice to the diversity of meditation techniques. To help in solving this issue, we used a novel bottom-up procedure to develop a comprehensive classification system for meditation techniques. In previous studies, we reduced 309 initially identified techniques to the 20 most popular ones. In the present study, 100 experienced meditators were asked to rate the similarity of the selected 20 techniques. Using multidimensional scaling, we found two orthogonal dimensions along which meditation techniques could be classified: activation and amount of body orientation. These dimensions emphasize the role of embodied cognition in meditation. Within these two dimensions, seven main clusters emerged: mindful observation, body-centered meditation, visual concentration, contemplation, affect-centered meditation, mantra meditation, and meditation with movement. We conclude there is no “meditation” as such, but there are rather different groups of techniques that might exert diverse effects. These groups call into question the common division into “focused attention” and “open-monitoring” practices. We propose a new embodied classification system and encourage researchers to evaluate this classification system through comparative studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/

 

Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Yoga Practice

Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Turns out, in addition to improving sleep quality, relieving stress and anxiety and improving overall physical health, yoga can also be an excellent natural energy-booster.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) occurs in about 0.2% of the population. It produces a profound, prolonged, and debilitating tiredness that is not corrected by rest. When severe, it can produce a chronic and extreme tiredness, so severe that sufferers can become bed-bound or need to use a wheel-chair. It produces muscle pain, brain fog and dizziness, poor memory, disturbed sleep and trouble with digestion.

 

Unfortunately, there are no known cures for CFS. The usual treatments for fatigue are targeted at symptom relief and include exercise and drugs. As an alternative to these traditional treatments, mindfulness training has been shown to reduce fatigue. The mindfulness practice of Yoga also includes exercise and it has been shown to be an effective treatment for the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). But the mechanism is not known of how yoga may be affecting the symptoms of CFS.

 

In today’s Research News article “Changes in circulating microRNA after recumbent isometric yoga practice by patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: an explorative pilot study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6886179/), Takakura and colleagues recruited female Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) who had not progressed over 6 months with standard treatment and were not able to work or carry on normal activities. They were provided 3 months of recumbent isometric yoga practice every 2 to 4 weeks and practiced at home daily. Before and after the yoga intervention the women had blood drawn and assayed for micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) expressions. They also completed a measure of fatigue.

 

They found that although the patients had shown no improvement in fatigue levels over the 6-month pre-intervention period, after the recumbent isometric yoga practice there were significant reductions in fatigue. The blood assays revealed that after treatment 4 miRNAs levels were significantly higher and 42 were significantly lower.

 

Micro-ribonucleic acid (miRNAs) contribute to gene silencing. Circulating miRNAs have been proposed as biomarkers for some medical conditions. Because the blood levels of these miRNAs are changed by isometric yoga practice at the same time that fatigue levels decrease suggests that these miRNAs may be involved in or a marker for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has no known causes and no effective treatments have been discovered. It is encouraging that yoga practice can help with this debilitating condition. In addition, the study provides an interesting possibility of miRNA changes in the blood that may be biomarkers for the disease. Further investigating these leads may lead to a better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying CFS.

 

So, improve chronic fatigue syndrome with yoga practice.

 

Many believe that yoga is a powerful treatment for fatigue as it combines the tools of yoga postures, breathing techniques, and meditation that helps clear the brain fog and body fatigue.” – Rishikul Yogshala

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Takakura, S., Oka, T., & Sudo, N. (2019). Changes in circulating microRNA after recumbent isometric yoga practice by patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: an explorative pilot study. BioPsychoSocial medicine, 13, 29. doi:10.1186/s13030-019-0171-2

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga is a representative mind-body therapy. Our previous studies have demonstrated that isometric yoga (i.e. yoga programs that we developed so individuals can practice yoga poses with a self-adjustable isometric load) reduces the fatigue of patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS); however, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Several studies have suggested that the micro-ribonucleic acid (miRNA) expression of ME/CFS patients is different from that of healthy subjects. However, it has not to date been determined if the practice of isometric yoga can affect miRNA expression. Therefore, we sought to investigate if isometric yoga is associated with changes in the expression levels of serum miRNA of patients with ME/CFS.

Methods

The study included nine patients with ME/CFS who failed to show satisfactory improvement after at least 6 months of treatment administered at our hospital. Patients practiced recumbent isometric yoga for 3 months; they met with a yoga instructor every 2 to 4 weeks and participated in daily in-home sessions. The effect of recumbent isometric yoga on fatigue was assessed by comparing pre- and post-intervention scores on the Japanese version of the 11-item Chalder fatigue scale (CFQ 11). Patient blood samples were drawn pre- and post-intervention, just prior to practicing recumbent isometric yoga with an instructor. The serum was used for miRNA array analysis with known human miRNAs.

Results

The average CFQ 11 score decreased significantly (from 25.3 ± 5.5 to 17.0 ± 5.8, p <  0.0001) after practicing recumbent isometric yoga for 3 months. The miRNA microarray analysis revealed that four miRNAs were significantly upregulated, and 42 were downregulated after the intervention period.

Conclusions

This explorative pilot study is the first to demonstrate changes in the serum levels of several miRNAs after regular practice of recumbent isometric yoga. These miRNAs might represent biomarkers for the fatigue-relieving effects of isometric yoga of patients with ME/CFS.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6886179/