With its catalogue of headstands and one-legged contortions, it might be thought yoga was best left only to those in peak physical condition.

New research from the US, however, suggests the group of people who could most benefit from adopting the lotus position while locating their spiritual core are in fact those immobilised by pain.

Analysis of more than 1,000 men and women with long-term lower back pain found that patients who practised the ancient Indian discipline were most likely to reduce pain levels and improve their mobility.

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