A study has found that tai chi, a mind-body practice that combines meditation with gentle, flowing poses, may significantly reduce the spectrum of physical and mental problems associated with fibromyalgia.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, randomly split 66 people with fibromyalgia into two equal groups. Both groups met twice weekly for 12 weeks. The first group practiced 60 minutes of tai chi with an experienced instructor, while the second group spent 40 minutes in a health education class followed by 20 minutes of stretching.

Researchers measured how well the participants were doing by using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, or FIQ, which measures pain, physical functioning, fatigue, morning tiredness, stiffness, depression, anxiety, difficulty at work and overall well-being.

Based on their answers, patients were given a score from 0 to 100, with higher numbers representing worse symptoms.

Though the study was small, the results were dramatic.

After 12 weeks of tai chi, participants’ average scores on the FIQ dropped from 63 to 35, a 28-point decrease. The control group, on the other hand, only saw an improvement of about 9 points, taking their average score from 68 to 59.

And 35 percent of the tai chi participants were able to stop taking their pain medications as compared to 15 percent of the control group.