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1.  Participant Characteristics Associated with Symptomatic Improvement from Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain 
Studies suggest that yoga is effective for moderate to severe chronic low back pain (cLBP) in diverse predominantly lower socioeconomic status populations. However, little is known about factors associated with benefit from the yoga intervention.
Identify factors at baseline independently associated with greater efficacy among participants in a study of yoga for cLBP.
From September–December 2011, a 12-week randomized dosing trial was conducted comparing weekly vs. twice-weekly 75-minute hatha yoga classes for 95 predominantly low-income minority adults with nonspecific cLBP. Participant characteristics collected at baseline were used to determine factors beyond treatment assignment (reported in the initial study) that predicted outcome. We used bivariate testing to identify baseline characteristics associated with improvement in function and pain, and included select factors in a multivariate linear regression.
Recruitment and classes occurred in an academic safety-net hospital and five affiliated community health centers in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ninety-five adults with nonspecific cLBP, ages ranging from 20–64 (mean 48) years; 72 women and 23 men.
Outcome measures
Primary outcomes were changes in back-related function (modified Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire, RMDQ; 0–23) and mean low back pain intensity (0–10) in the previous week, from baseline to week 12.
Adjusting for group assignment, baseline RMDQ, age, and gender, foreign nationality and lower baseline SF36 physical component score (PCS) were independently associated with improvement in RMDQ. Greater than high school education level, cLBP less than 1 year, and lower baseline SF36 PCS were independently associated with improvement in pain intensity. Other demographics including race, income, gender, BMI, and use of pain medications were not associated with either outcome.
Poor physical health at baseline is associated with greater improvement from yoga in back-related function and pain. Race, income, and body mass index do not affect the potential for a person with low back pain to experience benefit from yoga.
PMCID: PMC4228962  PMID: 25401042
Back pain; Low back pain; Chronic pain; Yoga; Hatha yoga; Socioeconomic status; Alternative medicine; Complementary medicine; Integrative medicine
2.  Yoga and Physical Rehabilitation Medicine: A Research Partnership in Integrative Care 
Mind-body interventions, such as yoga, that teach stress management with physical activity may be well suited for investigation in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In order to be considered as viable care options integrative studies need to offer a comprehensive design and include clinicians familiar with the disease process of the study populations. A review of the literature reveals a dearth of information related to the collaboration between yoga and physical rehabilitation medicine. This article discusses the collaboration with physical rehabilitation medicine to collect relevant pre- and post-intervention measures for an on-going pilot acceptability/feasibility yoga study for minority patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
An interdisciplinary clinical research team selected psychosocial and physical measures for a community sample of bilingual minority patients, not typically identified as practicing yoga. Sixteen female adults aged 40–63 years (mean =51) completed baseline physical assessments using single leg stance, functional reach test, time up and go test, timed up from the floor test and the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand measures. Baseline values show an average level of functional ability prior to beginning the intervention. Preliminary results indicate some improvement; however, selected measures may not have the sensitivity and specificity needed to identify significant change. In this study, combining interdisciplinary perspectives enhanced the quality of the research study design. The experience of this interdisciplinary clinical research team opens the discussion for future collaborations.
PMCID: PMC3995350  PMID: 24765541
Yoga; Minority; Osteoarthritis; Rheumatoid arthritis; Physical rehabilitation medicine
3.  Yoga Improves Upper-Extremity Function and Scapular Posturing in Persons with Hyperkyphosis 
Hyperkyphosis (excess thoracic spine curvature) is associated with upper-extremity functional limitations and altered scapular posturing. The purpose of this study was to quantify the changes in upper-extremity function and scapular posturing following a 6-month yogaintervention in persons with hyperkyphosis.
Twenty-one older adults with hyperkyphosis (75.5+7.4 yrs) enrolled in the UCLA Yoga for Kyphosis randomized controlled trial, elected to participate in this uncontrolled, prepost substudy of upper-extremity function. They were measured at baseline and after a 24-week yoga intervention. Maximum vertical reach and timed book tests were used to evaluate upper-extremity function. Scapular posturing was quantified using a motion analysis system and data was obtained under 4 conditions: 1) quiet-standing, 2) normal walking, 3) fast walking, and 4) seated. Paired t-tests were used to test for changes between baseline and 6-month follow-up measures and Cohen’s d was calculated to examine effect sizes.
Following the 6-month yoga intervention, participants improved their book test performance by 26.4% (p < 0.001; d = 1.5). Scapular protraction decreased by 2.9% during the static-sitting condition (p < 0.001; d = 0.5) and the overall excursion of the scapulae decreased for both fast (25.0%, p < 0.05; d = 0.6) and self-selected walking (29.4%, p < 0.01; d = 0.9). There were no changes in maximum vertical reach.
Subjects demonstrated significant improvements with small to large effect sizes in the timed book test and scapular posturing to a less protracted position during both static and dynamic conditions after the intervention. These adaptations are likely to reduce the risk of scapular impingement and help preserve functional independence in older adults.
PMCID: PMC3965199  PMID: 24678442
Hyperkyphosis; Upper-extremity function; Scapular posture; Yoga
4.  Tai Chi Exercise to Improve Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease 
Journal of yoga & physical therapy  2013;3:10.4172/2157-7595.1000137.
A substantial number of individuals with Parkinson’s disease exhibit debilitating non-motor symptoms that decrease quality of life. To date, few treatment options exist for the non-motor symptomatology related to Parkinson’s disease. The goal of this pilot investigation was to determine the effects of Tai Chi exercise on the non-motor symptomology in Parkinson’s disease.
Twenty-one individuals with Parkinson’s disease were enrolled in a Tai Chi intervention (n=15) or a noncontact control group (n=6). Participants assigned to Tai Chi participated in 60-minute Tai Chi sessions three times per week, for 16 weeks.
Pre and post measures included indices of cognitive-executive function including visuomotor tracking and attention, selective attention, working memory, inhibition, processing speed and task switching. Additionally, all participants were evaluated on the Parkinson’s disease Questionnaire-39 and Tinetti’s Falls Efficacy Scale.
Results indicated that the Tai Chi training group had significantly better scores following the intervention than the control group on the Parkinson’s disease Questionnaire-39 total score as well as the emotional well-being sub score. Trends for improvement were noted for the Tai Chi group on Digits Backwards, Tinetti’s Falls Efficacy Scale, and the activities of daily living and communication sub scores of the Parkinson’s disease Questionnaire-39.
This research provides initial data that supports future studies to definitively establish efficacy of Tai Chi to improve non-motor features of Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3837454  PMID: 24278789
Neurodegenerative disease; Exercise; Cognition
5.  “Now I see a brighter day”: expectations and perceived benefits of an Iyengar yoga intervention for young patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of joints and associated fatigue, deteriorated range of motion, and impaired psychosocial functioning. Young adults with RA are at a particular risk for compromised health-related quality of life, and there is a need for safe, effective complementary treatment in addition to traditional medical approaches. The aim of the present study was to use face-to-face participant interviews, conducted before and after an Iyengar yoga (IY) program, to examine mechanisms through which yoga may be beneficial to young adults with RA.
This pilot study utilized a single-arm design where all participants received the intervention. Classes were taught twice per week (1.5 hours each) for 6 weeks by an IY teacher qualified in therapeutics. Interview themes included participants’ baseline expectations about yoga and viewpoints as to how their functioning had been impacted by the IY intervention were examined. Five young adults with RA aged 24–31 years (mean = 28; 80% female) completed the yoga intervention. Participants consistently reported that yoga helped with energy, relaxation and mood and they discussed perceived mechanisms for how yoga impacted well-being. Mechanisms included physical changes such as range of motion and physiological awareness, and psychospiritual developments such as acceptance, coping, self-efficacy and mindfulness. Though the study is limited, participants’ responses provide compelling evidence that IY for RA patients is an intervention worthy of further exploration. The mechanisms and outcomes reported by participants support a biopsychosocial model, which proposes that yoga benefits patients through both physiological and psychospiritual changes.
PMCID: PMC3493157  PMID: 23145356
Iyengar yoga; Rheumatoid arthritis; Qualitative data

Results 1-5 (5)