Four years ago, in 2015, Vox published this piece:

I read more than 50 scientific studies about yoga. Here's what I learned.

I'm assuming (correct me if I'm wrong) that it's a reasonable survey for lay people like myself. One of the bottom lines is that a lot of claims regarding the positive effects of yoga have not been established (nor refuted), and specifically regarding different schools of yoga or activities within yoga practice.

Have there been significant findings over the past several years (2015-2019), which change the picture painted in that piece?


1 Answer 1


In Yoga Journal, I've found one description of yoga:

Classical yoga, however, is a holistic practice comprising eight limbs—the physical postures being just one element of finding peace in oneself.

The same author is aware that yoga can mean different things to different people:

Yoga in Western society often misrepresents the physical practice, known as yogasana, as yoga itself.

It does not appear to me that yoga is meant as a form of treatment. Some doctors may suggest yoga as a relaxation method or exercise, though. Here are some recent systematic reviews of studies about yoga:

1) Yoga and anxiety (Depression and Anxiety, 2018):

There was inconclusive evidence for effects of yoga in anxiety disorders.

2) Effects of yoga on chronic neck pain (Clinical Rehabilitation, 2017):

Yoga has short-term effects on chronic neck pain, its related disability, quality of life, and mood suggesting that yoga might be a good treatment option.

3) Mind-body interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2018):

...the results for mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation are promising.

4) Noninvasive Nonpharmacological Treatment for Chronic Pain (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2018):

There is low evidence that yoga is associated with slight improvements of chronic low back pain.

5) Yoga for asthma (Cochrane, 2016):

We found moderate‐quality evidence that yoga probably leads to small improvements in quality of life and symptoms in people with asthma.

6) Yoga for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (Cochrane, 2015):

The effectiveness of yoga for secondary prevention in CHD remains uncertain.

7) Yoga for epilepsy (Cochrane, 2017):

...no reliable conclusions can be drawn regarding the efficacy of yoga as a treatment for uncontrolled epilepsy

8) Psychosocial interventions for recurrent abdominal pain in childhood (Cochrane, 2018):

There was no evidence for the effectiveness of yoga therapy or written self‐disclosure therapy.

9) More recent Cochrane systematic reviews about yoga

In conclusion, yoga may help in relaxation and stretching, so it can relieve tension and thus reduce musculoskeletal pain in some cases. The evidence from studies does not suggest that yoga would have a direct healing effect on a tissue level, though. Some people who practice yoga experience less pain but yoga does not appear to treat the underlying disorders that cause pain.

  • But here's the thing: Just like you said, yoga is not one fixed and clear-cut thing. Even within the physical practice there's a lot of variety. So, the conclusions would need to be rewritten to say "at one specific kind of yoga practice has short term effects" "at least one specific kind of yoga is associated with slight improvements of chronic low back pain" etc. Also, your final conclusion does not seem to follow from your quotes.
    – einpoklum
    Jul 25, 2019 at 9:11
  • @einpoklum, I've rewritten my conclusion to make myself clear.
    – Jan
    Jul 25, 2019 at 9:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.