These days you don’t have to dig too deep to find news about how yoga has positively benefited yet another group of individuals, whether they be high school jocks, yuppies, troops in Iraq, cancer survivors, or addiction recoverees. We’ve been a bit snippy snap with the news crew over at TIME mag, (they had it coming!) but for once we can feel so much better about appreciating the mass media coverage. Well TIME have redeemed themselves with this great article highlighting a recent study that found yoga to be a bonafide weapon in the battle against eating disorders.
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, included 50 adolescents aged 11-16, mostly girls, whom were “seriously ill” – almost half had been previously hospitalized as a result of ED. Of the 50, 55% were suffering from anorexia, 17% from bulimia and the remaining 28% a mix of the two and other variations.
Led by T. Rain Carei Ph.D. of Seattle Children’s Hospital, the study broke the group into usual clinic treatment and usual clinic treatment plus two hours of Viniyoga a week for eight weeks. At the close both groups improved in behavior and attitude, but the yoga bunch continued to show improvement even after the 8 weeks were up.
The researchers suspect that yoga may help by reducing the obsessive concern about weight associated with eating disorders.
“Food preoccupation may be reduced by focusing attention on yoga poses.” Some subjects even expressed this idea directly to the researchers, saying “This is the only hour in my week when I don’t think about my weight.”
Body image obsession is, and has been, a major public issue especially amongst young girls. With advertising, pop stars and celebriyogis everywhere it’s virtually unavoidable! Even in the supposedly ego-less sanctuary of yoga we can’t help feeling self-conscious about our looks – some styles of yoga even promote mirrors in class (yes also good for alignment, yadda etc.), and we’ve all seen the sleek covers of Yoga Journal. How can we not compare and respond to our “inadequacies”? The first few comments on the TIME article criticize that the study missed the point in that they focus on yoga as a “distraction”. We beg to differ. This study shows the awesome effectiveness of yoga to calm the fluctuations of the mind, as it were, and allow us to be comfortable in our own skin. Can you call that a distraction? Maybe…a distraction from distraction?
Anyway, this is super fantastic! And underlines all the work great organizations like our friends at Sprout Yoga have been doing to improve the lives of those affected by eating disorders (there are way more people than you may realize). In short, yoga helps you feel good about your body, inside and out, and these special studies are finally coming around to that. Thanks science!
TIME you get a yogadork gold star. (today)