"I'm more in balance": a qualitative study of yoga for patients with chronic neck pain.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 2013, 19 (6), pp. 536 - 542
Issue Date:
2013-06
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OBJECTIVES: This study investigated the perceived influence of yoga on body perception and psychosocial aspects of life for patients with chronic neck pain. DESIGN: This qualitative study was conducted using semistandardized interviews. SETTING: The interventions and interviews took place in a referral center's research department. SUBJECTS: Eighteen (18) patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain were recruited from a larger randomized controlled trial of yoga for chronic neck pain. INTERVENTIONS: Participants attended 90 minutes of Iyengar yoga once a week for 9 weeks. OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants completed a drawing of their neck and shoulder regions to reflect their subjective body perceptions before and after their yoga program. Semistandardized interviews were used to explore their body perception, emotional status, everyday life and coping skills, as well as any perceived changes in these dimensions postparticipation. An interdisciplinary group analyzed the study data using content analysis techniques. RESULTS: Participants reported change on five dimensions of human experience: physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social. Physically, most participants cited renewed body awareness, both during their yoga practice and in their daily lives. Such change was echoed in their postparticipation body drawings. Cognitively, participants reported increased perceived control over their health. Emotionally, they noted greater acceptance of their pain and life burdens. Behaviorally, they described enhanced use of active coping strategies. Finally, socially, they reported renewed participation in an active life. CONCLUSIONS: Participants linked yoga to change on all dimensions of human experience, attributing reduced pain levels, increased coping ability, better pain acceptance and increased control to it. Body awareness appeared a key mechanism in these changes.
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