Scientists are beginning to recognize that the benefits of yoga and meditation may also keep people with HIV healthier longer. In 2009, a UCLA study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that a program ofmindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) helped people with HIV maintain immunity. In the study, 48 HIV-positive adults (43 men and 5 women) with T cell counts of between 600 and 700 were assigned to one of two groups.
One group participated in an eight-week MBSR program that offered weekly instruction on mindfulness practices, including meditation techniques and a hatha yoga routine with poses such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Dandasana (Staff Pose), Baddha Kona-sana (Bound Angle Pose), and Savasana (Corpse Pose). They were also given audio CDs with instructions for practicing the meditation and yoga routine every day on their own. At the end of the study, group members also attended a daylong retreat that taught them how to apply mindful-ness techniques to daily stressors.
The other group received a one-day mindfulness seminar in which participants were given cursory instruction in meditation techniques but not encouraged to practice on their own.
After eight weeks, the MBSR group saw their T cell counts remain high while the other group's T cells plummeted. Study coauthor David Creswell, an assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, says the precipitous drop in T cells was expected, since the
ONLINE EXTRA Detailed instructions for alternate-nostril breathing can be found at yogajournal.com/nadishodhana.
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