Yoga Soothes Ulcerative Colitis

Up to 61% of ulcerative colitis patients report the use of complementary and alternative medicine due to their condition, one of which is yoga,

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Ulcerative colitis is the most common type of inflammatory bowel disease – about 146,000 people in the UK have it. Most people develop it between the ages of 15 and 25, or when they’re older – between 55 and 65. But you can get ulcerative colitis at any time in your life. And it’s slightly more common in men than women. Symptoms typically follow a relapsing and remitting pattern and can include diarrhoea, which may... have blood or mucus in it, lower abdominal (tummy) pain or cramps, tiredness, loss of appetite, and psychosocial ramifications such as anxiety and/or depression to name a few.

Up to 61% of ulcerative colitis patients “report the use of complementary and alternative medicine due to their condition, one of which is yoga,” Jost Langhorst, MD explains. This high figure is hardly surprising given the unpleasantness of symptoms and the ineffectiveness of some allopathic treatments.

A recent scientific trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a 3-month hatha yoga intervention involving one 90-minute session per week compared with written self-care lifestyle advice in patients with ulcerative colitis who were in clinical remission and had impaired quality of life. Patients were followed up an additional 3 months after the intervention, and outcomes were assessed at weeks 12 and 24 by blinded evaluators. The yoga group had significantly better disease-specific quality of life, physical quality of life, anxiety, depression and self-efficacy at 12 weeks compared with controls, and these measures were maintained through 24 weeks. Disease activity, mental quality of life, positive affect, perceived stress and self-efficacy were also improved in the yoga group vs. placebo at 24 weeks. Despite the study limitations, particularly the fact that this was a single-centre trial, these are very encouraging findings indeed.

Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS