Is Yoga the Same as Stretching?

The news is everywhere, from USA Today to ABC: A study published on Monday shows that yoga helps with chronic back pain. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study  showed that yoga and stretching equally help people with...
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The news is everywhere, from USA Today to ABC: A study published on Monday shows that yoga helps with chronic back pain. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study  showed that yoga and stretching equally help people with...

The news is everywhere, from USA Today to ABC: A study published on Monday shows that yoga helps with chronic back pain. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study showed that yoga and stretching equally help people with chronic back pain.

In the study, 92 people took a weekly yoga class. Ninety-one took weekly stretching classes. Forty-five people got a book that gave exercise and lifestyle modifications. After 12 weeks, the people who took yoga classes and stretching classes both improved, while the "book learning" group didn't.

However, yoga wasn't any more effective than stretching when it came to providing relief, which raises an interesting question: Is there a difference between yoga and stretching?

Buzz asked Loren Fishman, MD, of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, who prescribes yoga to his patients.

"That is an excellent finding because it shows scientifically, and again, what we believed from our own experience all along--that yoga helps patients with non-specific back pain. And stretching does too," he says. However, what the study didn't measure--the psychological and behavior benefits of regular yoga--is what yoga practitioners know is unique about the practice. "It often takes more time for these types of positive changes to take hold."