Heal Your Body With Yoga

It's sort of silly to think you'd need instructions on how to breathe, but trust us and try this exercise from Dr. Bauer, who is also the author of the Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine. Do it twice a day, and you'll feel better.

  1. With eyes closed and shoulders relaxed, inhale through your nose for six counts. Expand your belly, not your chest.
  2. Try to hold your breath for four counts.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for a count of six. Repeat the sequence three to five times.

It's Not All in Your Head

But a heck of a lot of it is. Tap into the amazing power of placebo.

52 percent of you feel wholeheartedly that mind/body medicine works—and that belief alone may make it true. A study in The Journal of Neuroscience shows that if you are feeling discomfort and are given a placebo you believe to be a painkiller, your mind will instruct your body to release feel-good endorphins.

And the effect is lasting:

79 percent of depressed people who responded to a mere placebo had avoided relapse even after 12 weeks, the Journal of Psychiatric Research reports. The studies used sham pills as a placebo, but you can use mind/body methods for yours.

But do note: Research says folks who get real meds, plus a placebo, feel the most relief. Dr. Benson's take? "Use your innate powers and the pills."

Wait. Yoga Can Help Cure That?

Those Sun Salutations, Downward Dogs and Chaturangas are your ticket to much more than sexy curves and a lean body. Choose the right method and you can pose your way out of...

Back Pain

What we know: People who attended only one 90-minute yoga class a week for 16 weeks reduced their back pain by two thirds and their pain medication usage by 88 percent, according to one study in the aptly named journal Pain.

How it works: One of many theories—Pressing into the floor activates your pressure receptors, blocking the neural pathways that signal pain, suggests Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami.

Which type to try: Skip the hard-core yoga and emphasize meditation and stretching. "Tight muscles can be a factor in pain, and calming your nervous system will help relax them," says Timothy McCall, M.D., author of Yoga as Medicine.

Migraines

What we know: Still more proof of yoga's power to alleviate ouches. Migraine sufferers who took up the habit for three months reported fewer and less intense headaches, a 2007 study in the journal Headache shows.

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