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BACKGROUND: Previous trials of yoga therapy for nonspecific low back pain (nsLBP) (without sciatica) showed beneficial effects. OBJECTIVE: To test effects of yoga therapy on pain and disability associated with lumbar disc extrusions and bulges. METHODS: Parallel-group, randomised, controlled trial. Sixty-one adults from rural population, aged 20-45, with nsLBP or sciatica, and disc extrusions or bulges. Randomised to yoga (n=30) and control (n=31). Yoga: 3-month yoga course of group classes and home practice, designed to ensure safety for disc extrusions. CONTROL: normal medical care. OUTCOME MEASURES (3-4 months) Primary: Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ); worst pain in past two weeks. Secondary: Aberdeen Low Back Pain Scale; straight leg raise test; structural changes. RESULTS: Disc projections per case ranged from one bulge or one extrusion to three bulges plus two extrusions. Sixty-two percent had sciatica. Intention-to-treat analysis of the RMDQ data, adjusted for age, sex and baseline RMDQ scores, gave a Yoga Group score 3.29 points lower than Control Group (0.98, 5.61; p=0.006) at 3 months. No other significant differences in the endpoints occurred. No adverse effects of yoga were reported. CONCLUSIONS: Yoga therapy can be safe and beneficial for patients with nsLBP or sciatica, accompanied by disc extrusions and bulges.