Lower back pain? Yoga therapy can help.

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Yoga has become a familiar part of the health and fitness scene in the United States. Nearly 16 million Americans currently practice yoga. Another nine million say they plan to try it within the year. Although many people turn to yoga to ease stress and improve overall health, a growing number have specific medical aims and are following the recommendations of their doctors.

According to a study in the journal Spine (Sept. 1, 2009), yoga therapy can reduce pain and improve function in people with chronic low back pain. Chronic low back pain—defined as pain that lasts more than three months—is notoriously difficult to treat. Not surprisingly, it drives many sufferers to turn to alternative and complementary therapies in search of relief. The Spine study is the second of two randomized trials to test a specific form of yoga called Iyengar (pronounced eye-en-gar) yoga, which is based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the world’s most well-known living yoga teachers.

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