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  • Emily Loe

Yoga or NOga

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

A newly announced study from Deakin University asks what yoga does for pelvic pain.


CW: Cissexist and intersex exclusionary language (the language in this article erases or doesn’t adequately acknowledge the existence of trans, gender diverse and intersex people). In the article text I have consciously changed the word ‘women’ to ‘people/patients’ with square brackets.


Note: This is a screenshot of an article in the Herald Sun newspaper that is behind a paywall.

Description of images: Newspaper article with the format of 5 small columns. White background, black writing. Text follows:


Article text:

"Yoga Benefits In Focus: $9.5m injection for endometriosis research" By Tom Minear
Melbourne researchers will study whether yoga can help [people] struggling with endometriosis as part of a $9.5 million research boost. Health Minister Greg Hunt will today unveil funding for five innovative projects to help tackle the chronic disease, which affects one in 10 [people]. Deakin University experts will compare the impact of yoga, education and cognitive behaviour therapy in improving the quality of life of [people] with endometriosis.
Endometriosis Australia co-founder Donna Ciccia said a lot of [people] with the disorder swore by yoga. "We do recognise that ability of relaxing and stretching the pelvis," she said.
"Yoga is quite a great way of relaxing the muscles. It tends to have a very gentle way of doing it." Ms Ciccia praised the Morrison Government's research investment, saying it would put more "tools in the toolkit" for patients.
"More investment in endometriosis research is definitely the key in helping give better treatment options and better information to patients," she said. "Having something that patients can do themselves empowers them - they're engaged, they're not passengers in the treatment."
Other projects include a Murdoch Children's Research Institute longitudinal study of teenagers to identify early risk factors, and Monash University research to examine whether a low FODMAP diet can help relieve gastrointestinal symptoms. Ms Ciccia there had been limited research on how diet changes could relieve pain and bloating linked to the condition. "I know a lot of people who try it do also find it very beneficial," she said.
Mr Hunt, who launched a national action plan on endometriosis two years ago, said it was "a common yet frequently under-recognised condition."
"It is a highly individualised disease, with its symptoms and impact ranging significantly from person to person," he said. "It often leads to severe chronic pain and in some cases, compromised fertility and sexual function. "The government is profoundly committed to tackling this often misunderstood and crippling condition. Our ultimate aim is to find a cure.
"These research projects will contribute to a greater understanding of endometriosis for the benefit of [patients] and their loved ones across Australia and the global community."

Context of the writer: Tom Minear is the Herald Sun's state political editor. He joined the paper in 2011 and has covered politics since 2016.


Just recently, there has been $9.5million put into endometriosis research. Which is so bloody exciting! I chose this article because I have been using yoga as a.. I would almost say as a distraction to my pelvic pain since it began. I don’t know if it’s really helped my pain, but it definitely gets my mind off worrying about it and it calms me down.


As a mover, I enjoy yoga on the days I can’t train or think about training. It reminds me how to move my body and gets me feeling a little like myself. I get into phases with yoga from loving it, to forgetting that I love it. I use it when I need reminding of what I actually enjoy doing but when I am constantly moving, I don't seem to have a place for it. I started practicing yoga when I cut down my gymnastics hours to study for my year 12 exams. Instead of using those extra hours to study, I found myself absolutely glued to the practice of yoga.


Image: Year 12 Emily with long curly hair in an upside down elbow stand, in a position with her back arched and legs straight, pointing towards the roof. Taken with a fish eye lense. On a purple tie dyed yoga mat, wearing a purple and grey block patterned crop top with ¾ black leggings and white Adidas ankle socks. Behind her is a wide glass door, showing the light blue sky.


Commenting on the article, it would have been nice to have more detail about how the university will be managing this study. I’m interested in seeing how this study at Deakin University goes, to see how many other people use yoga like I do, and just to see the findings of the research.


It also grazes over the ‘low FODMAP diet’ and how helpful diets can be for bloating linked to the condition. It also mentions that endo causes severe chronic pelvic pain and in some cases, compromised fertility and sexual function. Yes, these are huge problems with endo that need to be discussed and researched, but to reference these severe symptoms in such a brief article about yoga feels like they are using them to justify their spending on yoga research. I understand that it's possibly in there to educate the readers of the Herald Sun about endometriosis, but this article about yoga doesn’t really talk about study itself, and it definitely feels like yoga is the wrong platform to explain why so much money needs to be spent on this disease.


Yoga can really work for me, but I'm worried that in such a small article, the reader might be led to think that dieting and yoga is the answer for all patients with pelvic pain, when it's not. Diets and yoga are not cures. It's great complimentary treatment and works for a lot of people, but not all.

Credit: Artwork by @ailiebanks

Image description: Cartoon style. Pink background. Person with pink pyjamas and love heart socks lying in the fetal position on their knees. They are crying with their head in their hands. There is a cat lying on top of them saying "Have you tried yoga?" and the person crying responds "You're the worst."


Here is a link to a endo-friendly yoga flow by Melbourne Yoga Youtube - Slow Flow for Endometriosis


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