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When did practitioners report that yoga contributed to healing in the body?
If you’ve been following the series of articles sharing the results of our survey project, then you know we’ve just wrapped up a set of posts sharing what we’ve learned about yoga asana and injury. But what about the benefits of yoga asana? If so many people weren’t experiencing some benefit from the practice, then they wouldn’t keep doing it, right?
In a previous post, What Are the Benefits of Doing a Yoga Practice?, we summarized the benefits of yoga that our survey respondents reported. In the next two posts, we’ll get more specific about the contexts in which it was more likely for yoga practitioners to report benefits.
In this post we’ll start by exploring which factors increased the probability that yoga contributed to healing a pain or injury in the body.
Just as we discussed with respect to yoga and injuries, we know that our practice happens under multiple contextual situations all at the same time. For example: we practice for a certain number of minutes in an individual practice; we practice at a frequency of a particular number of days per week; and we practice at a certain time of day. All those aspects of our approach to practice interact and have the potential to change the impact that our yoga practice has. For that reason, in this post, we report the results of a test called multivariable logistic regression. That test tells us which factors, of all the factors that are occurring in practice simultaneously, are related to yoga contributing to healing pain or injury in the body. In this case, a resulting “p-value” of less than 0.01 indicates that there is a statistically significant relationship. Remember that a p-value of .01 is the same thing as saying there is a 99% probability that two variables are related.
We used the results of our logistic regression analysis to calculate “predicted probabilities”. This statistical method describes the probability of reporting that yoga contributed to healing in specific contexts based on the results of our logistic regression model.
We used a chi-square goodness-of-fit test to evaluate a separate question: whether advice from a teacher was significantly associated with experiencing healing from a pain or injury using yoga. A p-value of ≤ 0.01 was used to delineate a statistically significant effect. Cramer’s V was used to evaluate effect size of significant relationships. A Cramer’s V value was used to indicate a weak association when it was between 0.1 and 0.2, a moderate association when it was between 0.3 and 0.4, and a strong association when it was equal to or greater than 0.5.
Let’s get on to the results!
You might remember from our summary post on benefits that 80% of survey respondents reported that yoga had contributed to healing from a pain or injury in their body. This is a lot of people having the experience that yoga contributed to healing!
- 80% of respondents reported that they had experienced healing from some kind of pain or injury as a benefit of their yoga practice. (n= 2610)
Specifically, the top three body areas where survey respondents reported that yoga contributed to healing from a pain or injury were:
- low back (51.2%)
- shoulders (36.1%)
- hip area including hamstrings (31.9%)
So, what are the demographics and approaches to yoga practice that made it more likely that practitioners reported yoga contributed to healing from a pain or injury? Remember this does not mean that the pain or injury was caused by yoga – it could be any pain or injury.
A number of factors predicted that yoga contributed to healing from pain or injury including:
- Older practitioners (46 years old or older) were more likely to report healing than those 30 years old or younger.
- Those who did a very regular weekly yoga practice (5-7 days per week), either with or without a teacher, were more likely to report yoga contributed to healing than those with a less regular practice.
- Those who reported that they were yoga teachers themselves were also more likely to report that yoga contributed to healing from pain or injury.
Below you can see how each of these factors increased the probability that practitioners reported that yoga contributed to healing from a pain or injury.
What was the probability of reporting that yoga contributed to healing from pain or injury based on the following factors? (n=2629)
Frequency of weekly practice WITH a teacher
Frequency of weekly practice WITHOUT a teacher
What factors were NOT related to the likelihood that yoga contributed to healing from a pain or injury?
- Years of practice
- Average length of individual practice session
- Time of day of practice
- Number of teachers you have practiced with in the last 30 days
- Number of years your teacher has been practicing
What does this mean?
So what might this all mean to us as yoga practitioners and teachers? In many circumstances yoga practitioners experience yoga as contributing to healing when they are living with some kind of pain or injury. Older practitioners may be more likely to have pain or injury in their life just due to the aches and pains that come with aging. Based on our survey results, yoga is one tool that is available to support healing for these populations.
Those practitioners with a more frequent practice (5 or more days/week) were more likely to report that yoga contributed to healing from a pain or injury. Frequency of practice matters! To increase the probability that yoga will contribute to healing from pain or injury, consider practicing more often, even if the length of an individual practice is shorter. Frequency of yoga practice was a significant predictor of healing, with or without a teacher, so if you can’t make it to class, just get on the mat.
A side note: It turns out that frequency of practice matters for other benefits of yoga too, but we’ll explore more about frequency of yoga practice and its relationship to other benefits of yoga in a later post – stay tuned.
Those who teach yoga themselves were more likely to report that their yoga practice contributed to healing from a pain or injury. If you teach yoga, it’s possible that you may be more invested in studying the practice than the average practitioner. It makes sense that the more time you spend exploring your yoga practice, the more able you would be to use it as a tool for healing when you are experiencing pain or an injury.
Teachers were important for supporting the healing process with yoga. Survey respondents also reported that specific information from a teacher (e.g. verbal cues, information about modifications, etc.) significantly (p<.0001; Cramer’s V=.25) contributed to their healing process.
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David explains why the key to lowering into chaturanga is doing two things at once: maintaining an active serratus anterior and relaxing the triceps and deltoids.