blog » October 12, 2018 by Renee Herren

The Latest on Yoga From the Symposium on Yoga Research With Yoga Therapist Nicole DeAvilla! by Renee Herren

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The Latest on Yoga From the Symposium on Yoga Research With Yoga Therapist Nicole DeAvilla!

Calling all yoga enthusiasts or those thinking about trying yoga! Certified Yoga Therapist and 30Seconds contributor, Nicole DeAvilla, is a published researcher on yoga and the bestselling author of “The 2 Minute Yoga Solution: Fast and Easy Stress and Back Pain Relief for Anyone at Anytime.” Nicole attends the Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) every year and knows the scientists and researchers who investigate how yoga works, what yoga works and the benefits of yoga from a medical point of view. Nicole joined us to share the most recent information about yoga and how it can help you!

Q: What is the Symposium of Yoga Research?

The Symposium of Yoga Research (SYR) is the premier international scientific conference devoted solely to yoga research. It is an annual conference put on by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. It is the brainchild of Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, a yoga researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women's Hospital.

At the SYR, scientists from top research institutions around the world gather at Kripalu Center, a yoga retreat and training center, to present the latest research and developments in yoga research.

Q: How did you get involved in the world of yoga research?

Growing up I didn’t even know about yoga. But I did know that I wanted to do scientific research. Back then I was more interested in learning about and studying animals. By the time I graduated from college I had incurred a lot of sports and active life injuries. They really caught up with me when I landed a desk job. I was in a lot of pain! I turned to yoga for relief, taking the Ananda Yoga teacher training back in 1984. It changed my life! It gave me a therapeutic approach to yoga. Now I am faculty on the Ananda Yoga therapist training program.

My first co-author scientific paper was published in 1993. I was working as a research assistant at the Center for Sports Medicine at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco, Injuries in Recreational Adult Fitness Activities. I was one of the early members of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and have served on many committees over the years. I published my first solo research paper in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Q: So, we can’t wait to hear, what is the latest in yoga research that you discovered at the Symposium of Yoga Research?

It would truly take all night for me to share everything! I will do my best to share the most relevant and interesting work that I think our 30Seconds tribe will be happy to learn about!

  • There’s several of studies of yoga in schools, showing yoga helped improved teenagers sleep, children with emotions and attention challenges, college students’ well-being and studies on yoga for kids with disabilities There even was a study on yoga for teachers!
  • There were several studies of yoga benefits for veterans, Parkinson’s disease, eating disorders, self-esteem and mood, cancer, mental health and more!
  • A shout out to fellow 30Seconds tribe member, Debbie Howard, who is writing a book about caregiving, including how yoga helps. You have scientific research to back you up now! More than one study was presented at SYR.
  • Many studies looked at fatigue caused by a variety of issues. Yoga helps! One finding for fatigue was that you need to start with gentle, more restorative yoga first to relax and help the body build up to more active yoga. Some patients reported feeling more energy after just one session!

Q: What about yoga for low-back pain? Any news there?

There was a lot of yoga for low-back pain research presented at the conference. Dr. Karen Sherman presented again this year. Dr. Sherman conducted the first large NIH funded study on the effect of yoga therapy on low-back pain that got yoga therapy on the map in the Western healthcare system.

A great development was a recent review of the scientific literature on yoga and low-back pain which led to the American College of Physicians recommendations saying yoga is one of the first lines of treatments for low-back pain. Most studies are for non-specific low-back pain. Though in clinical situations we are also finding if you have a well-trained yoga therapist, other back pain conditions can be helped. Be sure you have a C-IAYT yoga therapist!

Dealing with low-back pain is one of the topics I teach yoga therapy students. I am faculty on the Ananda Yoga Therapists Training Program, a professional accredited program in northern California.

Q: When they study yoga, what aspects of yoga are they looking at? I usually think of yoga as the postures, but I know there is more to yoga than the physical!

Great question! They study all kinds of yoga and yoga practices. That means the yoga postures, breathing practices, meditation, mudras, chanting, mantras and yoga philosophy. Some time the researchers will look at just a single aspect of yoga, or a few different aspects or all of them. There is so much to yoga!

One of the reasons I believe that yoga is so effective for so many conditions is because of the complexity and diversity of yoga. One study compared the effects on the brain of long-time yoga practitioners with long time meditators. Both groups showed positive findings. Many changes in the brain were the same and several findings were different. I suggest you do both yoga and meditation and get ALL of the benefits – I do!

One study just looked at pranayama, breathing exercises and they measured levels of hormones. Just the yoga breathing practice alone showed support for reducing stress, boosting the immune system and cardiovascular system.

Q: All of this yoga research news makes me want to do some yoga right now! Can you give us something simple to do right now?

Sure! Stand up right now wherever you are! Take three deep breaths. Do only what's comfortable. Lift your arms over head, clasp hands and stretch to one side for a few seconds, breathing deeply. Then the other side. Affirm “Strength and Courage fill my body cells!” How do you feel now?

Q: This is amazing news. Can we get these therapeutic benefits by going down to our local Y yoga class or yoga studio?

Another great question! Maybe, but probably not. For some people, in some situations a general yoga class, appropriate for their experience level and fitness to practice with a quality yoga teacher, they will find the local class will work for them, however they might get worse. For many issues being researched, you will need a certified yoga therapist. Yoga therapists are required to have significantly more training. They train for more hours and focus on learning medical conditions and interventions.

The International Association of Yoga Therapists certifies yoga therapists. In fact, I was on the first committee that accredited the schools that train yoga therapists. C-IAYT yoga therapists are well trained and mentored. To learn more and to find a yoga therapist near you, go to the International Association of Yoga Therapists’ website. Get more information about the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the Symposium of Yoga Research.

Q: Wow! This is exciting news about yoga. How can our tribe get some more 2 Minute Yoga practices and keep up with the you and the latest news in yoga?

Photo: Steph Ritz

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Nicole DeAvilla
I always come back from these events so excited about the possibilities we have for healing! I cant wait to share!
Meredith Schneider
Yay Nicole DeAvilla! Can't wait to hear what you have to share with us. We all could use some yoga everyday.
Renee Herren
I am so looking forward to this chat! The 30Seconds summit and my first yoga experience with Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds, Donna John , Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead, and Mary Aulbach has sparked an interest in yoga for me!
Nicole DeAvilla
The conference is just getting going and there is so much to share! Yoga for military, cancer patients, school children, eating disorders, heart health, pain, balance issues, care givers, chronic fatigue, brain health and more! It's going to be hard to choose what to highlight in the chat!
Nicole DeAvilla
I want to thank my friend and colleague Steph Ritz of Voice Your Passions for the both the fun and more serious photos.
Renee Herren
I’m so excited Nicole DeAvilla! Please share some info about yoga in schools tomorrow and fatigue!
Holly Budde
Looking forward to it Nicole DeAvilla ! I’m using yoga to help stiffness in the back. I’m such an amateur I need your expertise 😘
Meredith Schneider
Can't wait for tonight! I'll be a little late. Class I'm in gets out at 9PM. Nicole DeAvilla, might need some tips for stiff hip flexors.
Nicole DeAvilla
Just now saw this! Ask in the 2 Minute Yoga Stress Free Zone on FB.
Dawn Waddington
Cannot wait to join in!
Lark Sontag
This is fascinating. I am doing the Breath 4 Change training in NY this spring, so that I can more better serve my tiny and not so tiny students in mindfulness in their mental and physical realms.

Thank you for the the work that you do!

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