This paper is a review of empirical studies, review and meta-analysis publications on yoga from the last few years. The review includes demographics/prevalence of yoga as a practice, bibliometric analyses of the yoga publications and the use of yoga for physical fitness and cognitive function. Most of the studies reviewed here involve yoga effects on psychiatric and medical conditions. These include pregnancy, prenatal and postpartum depression; stress, PTSD, anxiety, and obesity; cardiovascular conditions including hypertension; pain syndromes including arthritis, headaches and low back pain; autoimmune conditions including asthma, type II diabetes and multiple sclerosis; immune conditions including HIV and breast cancer; and aging problems including balance, osteoporosis and Parkinson's. The methods and results of those studies are briefly summarized along with their limitations and suggestions for future research. Basically yoga has been more effective than control and waitlist control conditions, although not always more effective than treatment comparison groups such as other forms of exercise. More randomized controlled studies are needed in which yoga is compared to active exercise groups. Having established the physical and mental health benefits of yoga makes it ethically questionable to assign participants to inactive control groups. Shorter sessions should be investigated for cost-effectiveness and for daily practice. Multiple physical and physiological measures need to be added to the self-report research protocols and potential underlying mechanisms need to be further explored. In the interim, the studies reviewed here highlight the therapeutic effects of yoga, a practice that could come to be called yoga therapy.
- Yoga research review
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine