Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy

Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy
Open Access

ISSN: 2157-7595

+44 1478 350008


Evaluation of a Yoga Program for Back Pain

Lynn Hickey Schultz, Sandra Uyterhoeven and Sat Bir S. Khalsa

The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that participants in a therapeutic yoga program for a variety of back pain conditions would show improvements in back pain, back-related functionality, symptoms, mood, quality of life, and reduction in stress and the use of medication for back pain. Participants were 24 adults with a complaint of chronic back pain who participated in a yoga program for back pain. The sample encompassed a variety of complaints including back pain, neck/shoulder problems, spondylolisthesis, sciatica/leg numbness, scoliosis, and herniated disc. The 12-week program consisted of weekly group yoga classes based on the methodology of the Krishnamacharya Healing Yoga Foundation (KHYF). This method includes asana, pranayama, core strengthening, meditation, bhavana (visualization) and mantra. Participants also practiced regularly at home and maintained a journal. A battery of self-report questionnaires were administered at baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks. Statistical significance was evaluated with one-sample t-tests on change scores. Twenty-two subjects completed both baseline and end-program questionnaires and 19 completed followup questionnaires. Subjects showed statistically significant improvements from baseline to end-program on the following scales: disability, stress, physical health (physical functioning and bodily pain), mental health (vitality, social functioning, and psychological well-being), bothersomeness of symptoms, negative mood (depression/dejection, anger/hostility, fatigue, and confusion/bewilderment). There was no significant change on use of medication. The end-program changes were sustained, and even strengthened, at the 24-week follow-up. Qualitatively, subjects reported strengthening of their back, more flexibility, reduced stress, better posture, reduced pain, and increased awareness. The results demonstrated that KHYF yoga classes lead to significantly improved quality of life for adult sufferers of back pain, including decreased disability and pain, and improved physical functioning and mood (less depressive feelings, anger, fatigue, and confusion). This study provided evidence that this yoga method ameliorates the negative effects of a very broad range of back pain disorders.