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A new study reports that doing yoga may help reduce seizure frequency, anxiety, and feelings of stigma that frequently comes with having epilepsy.
The research was published today in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Researchers looked at people with epilepsy with an average age of 30 in India.
They measured stigma based on participants’ answers to questions about being discriminated against, feeling different from other people, and whether they feel they contribute to society.
The scientists then identified 160 people meeting the criteria for experiencing stigma. Participants averaged one seizure per week and, on average, took at least two anti-seizure medications.
The team then randomly selected subjects to receive yoga therapy or sham yoga therapy.
Yoga therapy included exercises in loosening muscles, breathing, meditation and positive affirmations.
Sham yoga consisted of exercises mimicking the same yoga exercises, but participants were not given instructions on two key components of yoga believed to induce a relaxation response: slow and synchronized breathing, and attention to body movements and sensations during practice.
Each group participated in seven supervised group sessions of 45 to 60 minutes over three months. They were also asked to do yoga at home at least five times a week for 30 minutes, while tracking seizures and yoga sessions in a journal.
After three months of yoga therapy, researchers followed participants for another three months.
What researchers discovered about epilepsy and yoga
Researchers reported that people doing yoga were more likely to have reduced perception of stigma.
The team also discovered people who did yoga were more than four times as likely to have more than a 50% reduction in their seizure frequency after six months than the people who did sham yoga.
There was also a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms for those who did yoga compared to people who did not. Researchers said they saw improvements in quality of life measures and mindfulness.
Researchers say yoga may help people with epilepsy reduce their number of seizures as well as manage the anxiety sometimes associated with the condition