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Impact of Iyengar Yoga on Quality of Life in Young Women With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Evans, Subhadra PhD*; Moieni, Mona BA*; Lung, Kirsten BS*; Tsao, Jennie PhD*; Sternlieb, Beth BFa*; Taylor, Mihaela MD; Zeltzer, Lonnie MD*

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31827da381
Original Articles

Objective: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, disabling disease that can greatly compromise health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The aim of this study was to assess the impact of a 6-week twice/week Iyengar yoga program on HRQoL of young adults with RA compared with a usual-care waitlist control group.

Methods: The program was designed to improve the primary outcome of HRQoL including pain and disability and psychological functioning in patients. Assessments were collected pretreatment, posttreatment, and at 2 months after treatment. Weekly ratings of anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep were also recorded. A total of 26 participants completed the intervention (yoga=11; usual-care waitlist=15). All participants were female (mean age=28 y).

Results: Overall attrition was low at 15%. On average, women in the yoga group attended 96% of the yoga classes. No adverse events were reported. Relative to the usual-care waitlist, women assigned to the yoga program showed significantly greater improvement on standardized measures of HRQoL, pain disability, general health, mood, fatigue, acceptance of chronic pain, and self-efficacy regarding pain at posttreatment. Almost half of the yoga group reported clinically meaningful symptom improvement. Analysis of the uncontrolled effects and maintenance of treatment effects showed improvements in HRQoL general health, pain disability, and weekly ratings of pain, anxiety, and depression were maintained at follow-up.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that a brief Iyengar yoga intervention is a feasible and safe adjunctive treatment for young people with RA, leading to HRQoL, pain disability, fatigue, and mood benefits. Moreover, improvements in quality of life, pain disability, and mood persisted at the 2-month follow-up.

*Pediatric Pain Program, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine

Department of Rheumatology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

The authors declare no conflict of interest. Supported by NIAMS Grant 1R21AR057318-01(PI: L.Z.), NCCAM Grant K01AT005093 (PI: S.E.), Bethesda, MD; and by a General Clinical Research Center Grant M01-RR00865 (PI: L.Z.), Los Angeles, CA.

Reprints: Subhadra Evans, PhD, Pediatric Pain Program, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, MDCC 22-464, 10833 Le Conte Ave 90024, CA (e-mail:

Received December 8, 2011

Accepted November 11, 2012

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins