Yoga eases pain of carpal tunnel...
A simple yoga program -- no drugs,
no expensive equipment and no surgery -- was better than conventional
treatment at reducing pain and improving the hand strength of
patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, according to a new study
at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.
Common among computer users, Carpal
Tunnel Syndrome is a potentially debilitating nerve disorder of
the hand usually caused by repetitive motion, like typing. It
results from pressure on the median nerve, which controls sensations
in the thumb, index and middle fingers. The condition can be so
painful that many sufferers cannot use their affected hand.
The randomized, single blind, controlled
study included a yoga group and a group who only received wrist
splints, the most common form of treatment. The yoga group took
a 1.5 hour class twice a week. They performed simple postures
designed to take each joint of the upper body through its full
range of motion, stretching, strengthening and aligning the hands,
wrists, arms and shoulders. After eight weeks, the yoga group
had significantly less pain and greater hand strength, whereas
the control group experienced no significant reduction in pain
or increase in hand strength.
The postures used in the program
- Staff pose (dandasana) -- sit
on chair, trunk upright, press hands into chair, press shoulder
baldes into back, move shoulders back and down.
- Prayer position -- press palms
and fingers together, stretch and bend fingers.
- Arms overhead (urdhva hastasana)
-- Lift arms over head, keep arms straight and shoulders down
- Arms overhead, fingers interlocked
(parvatasana) -- Same as above, clasp fingers, turn palms upward.
- Chair twist -- sit sideways in
chair with right side against back of chair. Place hands on
back of chair, twist to the right using hands for additional
support. Repeat on other side.
- Mountain (tadasana) -- see Posture
- 90 degree forward bend to wall
-- Stand with feet about hip width apart, raise arms over head,
bend at hips bringing hands to rest on wall.
- Arms overhead with hands in prayer
position -- Stand in tadasana, raise arms to Tee position, urn
palms up, then rotate arms in small circles, first forward then
back. Lift arms straight overhead, join hands in prayer position,
stretch up and look up at hands.
- Dog pose with chair -- Stand,
feet hip width apart, facing the seat of a chair. Bend, placing
palms on seat, shoulder width apart. Straighten arms and lift
waist, hips and knees a few inches above the chair. Turn arms
out and crve trunk back between them. Bring coccyx, sacrum and
lumbar spine forward, keeping buttocks tight. Stetch front of
body from the pubis. Raise sternum and ribs. Hold shoulders
back. Press shoulder blades and dorsal spine in.
- Hands in prayer behind back --
Stand in tadasana, bring palms together behind back, fingers
pointing up down. Turn fingers up and raise as high as possible
between the shoulder blades.
Each posture should be held
for about 30 seconds.
From "Yoga-based intervention
for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A randomized trial," by M. Garfinkel,
A. Singhal, W. Katz, et al, in The Journal of the American Medical
Association, November 11, 1998.
for asthma sufferers...
A 16-week yoga program improved the
quality of life for a group of asthmatics in a Colorado study.
Patients went to yoga classes three times a week and were taught
pranayama, postures and meditation. After 16 weeks the yoga group
reported a significant degree of relaxation, positive attitude,
and that they could better handle the yoga exercises. They also
tended to use their inhalers less often. There was no significant
difference in pulmonary functions between the yoga group and a
control group that did not do yoga. Nonetheless, the researchers
concluded that yoga seems beneficial as an adjunct to the medical
management of asthma. Yoga may help asthma sufferers in several
ways. First of all, asanas improve respiration and relax the chest
muscles. A pranayama technique called the three-part breath promotes
deeper breathing by using more of the lungs, while alternate nostril
breathing induces calmness. Meditation also promotes calmness
and relaxation. From
"Clinical study of yoga techniques in university students with
asthma: a controlled study," by P.K. Vedanthan, L.N. Kesavalu,
K.C. Murthy, K. Duval, et al, in Allergy Asthma Proceedings, January
shows lifestyle changes reverse heart disease...
Lifestyle matters. Especially to
heart patients. Those are the findings of a new study by Dr. Dean
Ornish in which an experimental group who made intensive changes
in diet, exercise, stress management and other lifestyle factors,
including yoga, showed greater reversal of coronary heart disease
after five years than patients who followed a program advocated
by the American Heart Association. In fact, the control group
got worse over the five years, even though half of them were on
The study was a follow-up to the
groundbreaking Ornish's Lifestyle Heart Trial. The original trial
found that after one year, heart patients who made intensive lifestyle
changes had a 37.2 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol ("bad"
cholesterol), less frequent angina (chest pain), and a reduction
in stenosis (narrowing of the blood vessels). By contrast, patients
who made moderate changes reduced LDL cholesterol by only 6 percent,
had more frequent angina, and greater stenosis. Among the 48 patients
from the original study, 35 agreed to take part in the follow-up
and continued through the entire five years.
Patients in the experimental group
were prescribed an intensive program that included a 10 percent
fat vegetarian diet, moderate aerobic exercise, stress management
training, smoking cessation and group psychosocial support. Control
group patients were asked to follow the advice of their personal
physicians regarding lifestyle changes, consistent with the American
Heart Association's Step II diet guidelines. No experimental group
patients took lipid-lowering drugs, while 60 percent of control
patients received lipid-lowering medication. Angiograms were done
at the end of five years for the 20 experimental group patients
and 15 control group patients who completed the follow-up.
Among the findings of the study:
- Experimental group patients had
a 91 percent reduction in frequency of angina after one year,
and a 72 percent reduction after five years. Control patients
had a 186 percent increase in frequency of angina after one
year, and a 36 percent decrease after five years. Three of the
five control patients who reported an increase from baseline
to year one underwent coronary angioplasty before year five.
- The reduction in LDL cholesterol
levels in the experiment group was comparable with results achieved
by lipid-lowering drugs for ambulatory patients.
- In the experimental group, the
average percent diameter stenosis showed a 7.9 percent relative
improvement after five years, while the control group showed
a 27.7 percent relative worsening.
The researchers also found more than
twice as many cardiac "events" in the control group (45 events,
2.25 events per patient) than in the experimental group (25 events,
0.89 events per patient). Events included heart attacks, coronary
angioplasty, coronary bypass surgery, cardiac-related hospitalizations
and cardiac-related deaths.
The bottom line for the study is
that major lifestyle changes can help reverse heart disease. Following
the program recommended by the American Heart Association does
Interestingly, in news reports following
publication of the study the American Heart Association refused
to endorse its results, saying that the Ornish program was too
difficult for most people to follow, while their program was easier.
Apparently, the fact that you also have a higher chance of dying
if you follow the Heart Association's program doesn't factor into
From "Intensive Lifestyle Changes
for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease," by Dean Ornish, MD; Larry
W. Scherwitz, PhD; James H. Billings, PhD, MPH; K. Lance Gould,
MD; et al, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, December