No cure exists for fibromyalgia, which is characterized by multiple tender points, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and memory and concentration problems. Some 11 to 15 million Americans have the debilitating condition, about 80 to 90 percent of them women, according to background information in the article.
Fibromyalgia can be very difficult to treat, with many patients reporting little relief from medications, said Dr. Bruce Solitar, a clinical associate professor of medicine in the division or rheumatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Yoga is probably worth trying, Solitar said. But he noted that patients in the study were in a yoga class specially tailored to their needs and said the class at a local yoga studio might be too intense.
The yoga sessions evaluated in the study included 40 minutes of gentle stretching and poses, 25 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of breathing techniques, a 20-minute lesson on applying yoga principals to daily life and coping with fibromyalgia and 25 minutes of group discussion. Participants were also encouraged to practice at home with a DVD on most days.
Though it's unknown how much of the positive effect shown in the study is the "placebo" effect of doing something that feels empowering vs. something special about the yoga and meditation itself, that may be beside the point if people feel better, Solitar said.
"Many patients report that not much helps them, so anything that's positive is a very good thing," Solitar said.
In the study, women practiced Yoga of Awareness, a type of yoga developed by Carson, a yoga and meditation instructor, and his wife, study co-author Kimberly Carson. Carson taught the class. (Carson reported no financial considerations that would cause a conflict of interest.)
Yoga of Awareness draws from the Kripalu school of yoga, Carson said, which emphasizes the "inner dimensions" of yoga, such as accepting pain a
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