Yoga, self-care

Associate Professor Romy Lauche

Associate Professor Romy Lauche is the Deputy Director of Research at the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine. In addition to her pivotal role at the Centre, Romy has led several research projects on self-care, and partner-delivered care dedicated to optimising both physical and mental health outcomes for individuals affected by chronic conditions. She feels that those living with chronic pain, can experience benefits from these strategies. 

In her research into self-care methodologies, Romy underscores its multifaceted nature, encompassing an array of practices geared towards disease prevention and holistic health management. From adhering to one’s medication schedule to maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, or using informal health care (e.g. supplements and home remedies), the essence of self-care lies in active participation in one's own health journey. 

Yoga, self-care

Despite yoga’s widespread popularity, perceptions of it vary significantly. While some people associate yoga with voodoo or witchcraft, social media often portrays it as a high-performance form of gymnastics. However, neither of these representations truly reflects the authentic practice of yoga in the real world. 

Transforming Lives: Empowering Wellbeing through Yoga Research 

Yoga, with its ancient spiritual roots, gradually entered Western culture in the early 20th century. It gained popularity during the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The rise of globalisation and the internet accelerated yoga’s global trend, making it a mainstream practice from 2000 to 2020.

Over the past two decades, research on yoga has grown exponentially, shedding light on its impact on health and wellbeing. Scientists have explored yoga’s physiological, psychological, and social aspects, revealing valuable insights into how yoga works, and for which conditions. From stress reduction to improved flexibility and strength, scientific inquiry has reinforced yoga’s reputation as a holistic wellness practice. 

Romy is one of the most cited yoga researchers worldwide. She has conducted numerous cross-sectional analyses, investigating the correlation between yoga and lifestyle behaviours, its role in weight loss techniques, and its effect on reducing falls or injuries. Moreover, she has played a pivotal role in several clinical trials assessing yoga's benefits for individuals dealing with neck pain, breast cancer, or colon cancer. Post-trial interviews with participants have provided invaluable firsthand accounts and insights into the efficacy of yoga interventions. 

Even in trials primarily aimed at improving pain management, many participants reported experiences beyond pain relief. They described changes in overall wellbeing, feeling more balanced. Regaining confidence, they were able to participate in social activities again—something they couldn’t do when experiencing constant pain. Additionally, they found ways to actively cope with their pain and contribute to their own recovery.” 

Complementing her primary research, systematic reviews conducted by Romy and colleagues have synthesised existing evidence on yoga's impact across various health conditions such as back pain, depression, and cancer. While acknowledging the increasing quality of research in recent years, Romy highlights the persistent gaps in evidence across several areas.

While we observed improvements in the quality of yoga research overall, there remains room for enhancement to ensure that the findings withstand scrutiny by conventional medical research. 

Romy is currently engaged in analysing longitudinal data to elucidate the long-term utilisation of yoga over a span of 20+ years and its potential implications for health and wellbeing. Additionally, she is actively involved in the development of a comprehensive database to collate randomized controlled trials conducted worldwide, aiming to bolster yoga research on a global scale. 

Donate to the Centre to help us continue to support Romy as she continues her research into transformative self-care practices that resonate with individuals and communities alike. 

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