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  1. I have utilized Qigong and Taijiquan in treatment of anxiety disorders with moderate success. I don’t doubt that yoga remedies efficacy in treatment as well. As an alternative to medications and CBT that is common to most of us in practice, I believe that as more research becomes establish there will be found much benefit from these form of internal disciplines in the treatment of many forms of psychosocial distress, anxiety, and depression. I would be cautious in attempting to establish in any dialogue that there is only this way or that way. Human history as many years in existence before there were developed ‘psychotherapy’ and psychiatric medications to treat conditions.

  2. Yes I have recommended yoga the most but have also suggested chi Kung, Pilates,
    Tai chi…even walking meditations. Recommendations were specific to client…circumstance, age etc.
    Good stuff
    Barbara

  3. People always complaining enjoy life have fun and i sorry that ur going to miss me!!!! i reduce my anxiety giving my energy thru the massage to the people.

  4. I use physical therapies to assist patients with physical and psychological disorders all the time! My first undergrad. degree I found significant changes in behaviour in a small study of children on the Autistic spectrum whose behaviours significantly improved with one Alexander Technique lesson a week for one term in the l990s… also found stress reduction in the workplace significantly reduced with Alexander Technique and a technique called Timeshifting (Stephan Rechtschaffen’s work) for my MSc in Conciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology. Want to conduct studies with fMRIs for massage and Alexander Technique for PD patients, depressives, and bipolar but so far not been accepted on degree course. Have also a BSc Hons in Chiropractic so I have some experience with MRIs and neurology in addition to my other degrees but so far unsuccessful…. I am quite sure that these studies would be worth a trial since they are less invasive than many current interventions…would love the opportunity especially as Mindfulness is such a buzz word – how has the Alexander Technique and remedial massage been by-passed…?

  5. This looks very informative!

  6. Without knowing the precise design of the study, just to say “Yoga” does not say to much anyway. What are the special ingredients that work for a special person, or stand in the way for another? It may not be what we consider it to be, as the example of Elisabeth shows. To her, it was touch that helped a lot.
    So, when you say Yoga, do you think of Hatha-Yoga? Of Raja-Yoga? Of the postures, the breathwork or the meditation? The group-field, the time in structured silence with yourself, the calm way of being aware? Any Yoga-Student will probably know, how much the teaching of teachers may differ from one another. One teacher it is mostly relaxation, another teacher in his teaching make you think of martial arts. It so much depends on the person of the teacher, not only in Yoga.
    Of course there are different methods that have a great variety of “elements” that form to a special and unique unit. The question is not, is “my” method better than “yours”. The question is, how to find the best possible fit for the needs of this one special person for exactly “now”.

  7. Yoga helps me to elevate my mood, I do it at home and love it.

  8. The practice begins in the session. In my short-term work with mostly non-diagnosed people shortly after workplace related traumatic events, I make sure that I am doing the breathing ans postural relaxation that they appear to need (and which I may explicitly discuss later in the session).
    I appreciate the highlighting of the mindfulness aspect by many of the commenters. Being consciously attentive to what is going on in the self (be it body or any other facet) involves the implicit recognition that the person is not entirely lost in and subject to their trauma reaction, a proff that they have access to a place outside that reaction on which they can stand.

  9. What is all the hullabaloo regarding yoga and this article being misleading? Yes, many other forms of exercise can reduce anxiety, stress and depression. I don’t think the article was misleading at all. It simply focused on ONE form of stress/anxiety reduction: yoga. It did not state that yoga was the ONLY way in which to reduce anxiety. I think people complain just to complain. It seems obvious that someone decided to do research on one specific form of exercise,yoga, and reported the findings. If someone wants to do research on other forms of exercise, then please go ahead but don’t condemn an article just because the research focused on one kind of exercise.

  10. I am not a therapist. However I speak from experience with my own mood disorder. One of my primary sources of anxiety reduction and mood improvement is to create a music improvisation session on my electronic synthesizer keyboard. I am often able to create a “trance” state in which my consciousness is flowing from one moment to the next with little distinction between myself and my environment. For me, it is an embodiment of “be here now” principle. I am in charge of the experience, but there is no particular way I need to be or act.
    While trance music may not be an exercise, per se, two other activities in which I have participated may fit into that category— Qigong and creative dance. Both of these activities involve the creation of an energy flow which helps to integrate the body/mind with the moment of experience. The result for me is a sense of peace—very coveted in my experience.

  11. It is wonderful that the Boston University School of Medicine has dome a study showing the positive psycho-biological effects of yoga and that Bessel van der Kolk has been giving attention in recent years to the benefits of yoga for trauma recovery and self-regulation. Yoga, being a form that is widely available and known in the Western world, is already helping many people and is easy to access for those not yet practicing.
    I practiced yoga for over 30 years (started at the age of 16) and am well aware of the balance it provided me for those decades. Having had a pretty traumatic childhood, I relied on yoga (along with meditation, regular contact with nature and a loving marriage) to maintain centeredness and well-being. Well over a decade ago, I sustained a physical injury that made it impossible for me to continue yoga. Soon after, I was re-introduced to qigong and since have been practicing Zhineng Qigong (a form designed for healing, energy cultivation and personal transformation).
    Though they are both forms that incorporate meditative movement and have palpable positive affects on body and mind, my sense is that qigong’s effects are different in some respects from those of yoga. I experience the movement forms of Zhineng Qigong as more active while at the same time deeply meditative– but perhaps, in some ways, not as relaxing as the slow, internal form of yoga I practiced. With the focus in qigong on “mind’s intention” and the “practice of happiness”, I directly experience a change in my brain’s functioning. In addition to self-regulation and well-being, I have seen remarkable healing and increased vitality in myself and in other gigong practitioners. As it can be practiced despite physical injuries, I recommend it to those who cannot practice yoga.
    I also have experienced significant benefits from intrinsic movement practices from the Sufi tradition, Feldenkrais, Continuum, Authentic Movement and other internal movement forms, so there is no doubt a form for everyone that can bring greater self-regulation and wholeness. I would add that if a person is healing from developmental trauma and the practice is done in the context of a group, it is very important that the social environment of the group is loving and supportive. Social support also does great things for our brain chemistry and well-being!

  12. Is there anything so powerful as the healing energy of being physically engaged while in the presence of others engaged in the same activity? – be it yoga, running, walking, dancing, etc. The book Change or Die gives powerful examples of how the strength of relationships and/or “collective culture” can empower us to overcome the most difficult odds. It is beyond inspiring. If only it weren’t so bafflingly impossible to draw in those who are isolated and need connection most. That would be magic. I’m not a clinician, but as a family member or friend, would love to know how to woo others into more nurturing circumstances.

  13. I agree that the title of this post is misleading as many mindful awareness practices (both ancient forms and modern applications) noted in other comments show great promise in impacting anxiety and other mood disorders. However, this study is quite noteworthy in that its the first randomized controlled study to note that a mindful awareness practice, in this case yoga, has a more robust impact on the GABA system than a non-mindful or general form of exercise. As a nutritionist, yoga teacher and psychotherapist I have recommended a varied forms of aerobic exercise for years. The health and mood benefits of aerobic exercise have been well documented. In the case of anxiety, trauma and other mood related challenges I have found mindful awareness practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi (and many other forms) to have a far more effective impact than general exercise alone in helping clients develop the internal awareness and confidence needed to self manage anxiety and mood symptoms. Since many of these practice forms are lifestyle practices, they also support overall wellness in a way that can significantly support healing from debilitating mental health problems. Many of us using these approaches in integrative clinical practice have seen evidence that mindful forms of movement and exercise seem to impact the nervous system in an even more beneficial manner than general exercise alone when applied in the context of psychotherapy. We can make all kinds of hypotheses as to why this might be so. But suffice it to say, it’s a huge contribution to have empirical support for this emerging wisdom in modern clinical practice. This is good news for all of us practicing mind-body clinical interventions. I hope other mindful awareness practices will be studied with the same or better scientific rigor !

    • Excellent post from Erica Viggiano. Mind-body connections forged in a variety of ways is key.
      I also have found combining these with desensitsation strategies (eg Sedona Method combined with tapping) are very helpful.
      My one concern with aerobics, yoga and even tai chi, is that emphasis must be on slowly building confidence and endurance/skill- most important is easing the person into discovering how grounded, mindful awareness is possible and life-enhancing.

  14. HI and thanks for the invitation to reply. I have been teaching the Nia technique for over 10 years to all kinds of groups. It is a fitness technique that uses yoga, martial arts and dance to create a relaxed, expressive and deeply joyful experience. People come out of class relaxed, laughing, refreshed and emotionally more flexible. The yoga portion comes at the end and complements the cardio and emotional extroversion of the first portions.
    As a chaplain at New YOrk Presbyterian, I have brought Nia to the inpatient psych ward where very acute pts have experienced themselves at least for awhile as “okay” and functional. I also teach meditation to these patients as well as to staff and medical pts mostly in the cardiac intensive care units. Breath and body work, in my experience, is crucial to connect patients with their already and always present goodness and wellness which can be experienced as a physical sensation, certainly with its chemical profile. Concentration on sensation of the body also balances our over dependence on cognition to explain and cope with the world. This is so helpful to pts and all of us who get into mental treadmills and deep habits of stressful and negative thinking.
    Good luck with your work and I look forward to hearing more of this conversation.
    Thanks
    REbecca

  15. I walk aerobically every morning and derive a lot of benefits from doing so. The question that comess to mind is, is it the mediative part of Yoga that causes the connection to GABA or the exercise of yoga?
    When I go to the mountains and hike trails rather than the way I typically walk, I feel more relaxxed and less anxious. I attribute this to the slower pace and the reflective state of my surroundings.

  16. I agree with the writer who stated the headline is misleading and regret that more attention is not paid to taiji quan and qigong, which have similar benefits. There is evidenced-based research to support this; Yang Yang, Ph.D., Center for Taiji Studies, and his colleagues have been researching it and Laoshi Ken Cohen, M.A., http://www.qigonghealing.com, has been reporting it it for years. Discouraging people from healthy practices by making statements about “only one path” should be avoided.

  17. Mindfulness and exercise together promote healthy stress relief, increased immune function, general well-being. Other research includes other forms besides Yoga, including Tai Chi, and Feldenkreis, even ballroom dancing. The new brain science can help point out the benefit of practice/training with better function of specific neurotransmitters like GABA, but for Trauma Therapy, and general health, it’s important to remember there are many pathways to success.

  18. I’ve suggested walking and joining a gym. Patients who have followed these suggestions (or had started them on their own), have benefited from them. I walk and use an exercise bicycle (with arms extensions) beneficial for burning off stress hormones and releasing positive ones.

  19. Having done yoga and Feldenkrais, as well as having done a Duke University study
    on exercise for depression at a time when I moved to that area and got depressed, I can say that the contact with my body helped in any case.
    However, I think the subject is rather more complex. When I was depressed and retraumatized by the sense of isolation and ostracism by my now ex, which reproduced
    the three year long social ostracism shock I felt as an 8 year old non-English speaking German child entering an American boarding school in 1955, being labeled Nazi.
    What helped me most was the human touch: during my walk on the treadmill at Duke,
    the trainer took my pulse periodically. That was my moment of re-entering a feeling of being connected to humanity, feeling whole for a few moments, a sense of relief from the terrible isolation and disconnection. The feeling of being cared for was as much part of the cure as the exercise.
    Often when I did yoga alone the sense of isolation descended on me and made it impossible to practice. I had to be in a class to make it work its magic.
    The point is that yoga is not a cure-all. The context of the particular kind of trauma needs to be taken into consideration and the cure adjusted accordingly.

  20. The title of this study is misleading. The study compares walking with Yoga. It does not compare other forms of exercise. Especially missing is effect of dancing and effects of Feldenkrais work whether done in one on one format called Functional Integration or in groups called Awareness Through Movement.
    The implication of the study is that Yoga is the only form of body/mind exercise to achieve the results cited. As such the study is good, but very incomplete.

    • Yes, what is the added component? Mindfulness–Thich Nat Hanh’s/Zen/Buddhist mindful walking; Milton Fehrer’s “rest your mind on your body” renewed moment by moment while concentrating simultaneously, together, on that and the dance moves or on the mindful meditation or breathing or speaking or listening…
      This study could pioneer use of new brain technology with our curiousity and excitement to explore the necessary + optimal contributors to this desired whole…Can we: patients, clinicians, global+cosmic citiZens, fellow participants, discover and show through this or even better technology, what components are best present in us even as we investigate an issue or conundrum? I.e., whether this one or the ones we explore in therapy? Who seeks? Who finds? How to use the question to unite us so we Wholely seek the answer?
      Thank you all for looking into this together

      • P.S. Thich Nhat Hanh/Milton Feher
        Correct spellings

    • I don’t t hink it’s the title of the study that is misleading. Rather, I think it is the title that was on Ruth’s emailing. Whoever wrote it started out stating that there was “one exercise”. I don’t believe that the actual research implied that, and I don’t think that the article itself stated that yoga was the “only one” exercise to reduce stress. I think that whoever writes the titles for Ruth’s postings ought to be more precise.

      • My intent in the email was to convey that there is a specific exercise that has been proven to increase GABA. I don’t mean to imply that other forms of exercise aren’t helpful (and maybe they increase GABA as well) but I would only use the word “proven” if there was a study that meets the gold standard (randomized, controlled design.)
        I’m always for more research so that we really know what works.