Not “still yoga,” but yoga is still a great path to low back health. Chronic or recurring back pain is one of the chief ailments that leads people to their doctors, but back pain sufferers might find more satisfaction (and relief) if they follow their pain to their yoga mats.

Yoga can help us reduce pain, lose weight, gain confidence and seemingly solve all kinds of physical and even emotional problems. But can it really fix the low back? Signs points to yes. It’s not all that surprising, really, but a new study brings more proof.

A recent study set out to prove that yoga relieves low back pain in chronic sufferers and found that it also helps them improve function. Study participants were middle-aged women who had endured an average 10 years of back pain. The study compared the low back function of those who participated in a three-month yoga program to those receiving standard low-back care (massage, chiropractic, etc).

The yogis could perform 30 percent more activities compared to their non-yoga counterparts. It is interesting to note that the study found yoga classes produced better results than people working on their own found with self-help books and videos.

“Our results showed that yoga can provide both short- and long-term benefits to those suffering from chronic or recurrent back pain, without any serious side effects,” said study lead author Helen E. Tilbrook, of the University of York’s department of health sciences in Heslington, England. Anyone who has a regular yoga practice can tell you about yoga’s power to heal, but it is always nice to see it in print.

One of the more satisfying aspects of using yoga to control low back pain is empowerment. Instead of depending on an external source (like a chiropractor or a pain pill) for relief of symptoms, yoga teaches us to find solutions within. By teaching us to observe, yoga helps us understand ourselves from the inside out. We become better equipped to prevent illness and disease and maintain optimum health.

The body will heal itself when given the opportunity. Yoga leads us to that opportunity.