Tuesday, January 03, 2006

no news to us here

"after 12 weeks, the patients in the yoga group were better able to do daily activities involving the back than were the patients in the exercise or education groups. after 26 weeks, the patients in the yoga group had better back-related function and less pain. . . .fewer people in the yoga group used pain relievers."

this peer-reviewed controlled study proves only what we yoga students have known for a long time. the truly devoted reader will recall that i started yoga myself almost 8 years ago for lower-back trouble at a doctor's advice.

still it's interesting to see a half-way decent scientific study of yoga's effects. and for once the study mentions the kind of yoga used in the trial -- in this case, viniyoga.

i myself do a viniyoga-type class twice a week as well as more vigorous classes 3 or 4 times a week. i actually find the "gentle" yoga has improved my "fancy" poses and made some of the more pretzel-y ones more accessible, faster.

viniyoga in general focuses on the basic actions of yoga. for example, the viniyoga class i commonly attend features single leg-lifts, pigeon pose, the hip stretch known as lizard pose, and chatarunga/plank.

these basic actions are those required for the "fancy" pose ashtavakrasana, folded-in-8-places.

in ashtavakrasana you first pick up your leg and hold it across your body (pigeon pose, but sitting up); then you gently place it over your shoulder (lizard pose, but sitting up); next you place your hands on the floor beside your hips and pick up one leg off the floor (single leg lift, but sitting up); then you swing that off-the-floor leg over to the side (in the same basic position of the back leg in pigeon pose, but sitting up); next you straighten the leg-over-the-shoulder our to the side (leg lift again, but in a sideways direction); and finally you balance your torso forward with bent arms (chatarunga, but with the legs to the side).

when people in my supposedly "advanced classes" ask me how to learn this pose -- it's a "goal pose" for a lot of people -- i always surprise them by suggesting they start taking the viniyoga class. they usually protest that they don't need "gentle yoga."

with which i immediately agree. with all due respect, if that's your attitude, then learning astavakrasana won't do you any good anyway. . .

posted by fortune | 7:56 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 7 comments

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