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At the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute located in Pune, India, specific programs are offered that target various diseases and disorders such as chronic back pain, immunodeficiency, high blood pressure, insomnia and depression. As the person’s health improves, the exercises are adjusted. A few studies have shown the benefits of Iyengar yoga. In general, Iyengar yoga is useful in physical therapy because it assists in the manipulation of inflexible or injured areas. A limited study by Dr. Sharon Kolasinski showed an improvement in patients that suffered from osteoarthritis of the knees. A second study by Dr. Shapiro on patients suffering from unipolar depression showed that yoga was beneficial in reducing depression, anxiety, and anger. Closer to home, Vardit who lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, describes the excruciating pain caused by a pinched nerve in her back. “Pain killers didn’t help and I was very reluctant to go for cortisone shots,” she says. “Instead, I went to Rachel. She showed me several positions that stretched my back and relieved the pain for the first time in days. I didn’t want to leave her studio!”

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Rhona Lewis made aliyah more than 20 years ago from Kenya and is now in Beit Shemesh. A writer and journalist who contributes frequently to The Jewish Press’s Olam Yehudi magazine, she divides her time between her family and her work.