Research

Although yoga has been practiced in some form for millennia, from a Western scientific perspective we are just beginning to understand the mechanisms behind its effects.

Yoga is not a cure-all for physical or mental problems, but a growing body of research confirms yoga therapy’s promise to offer relief from the suffering associated with a number of chronic and debilitating conditions.* IAYT, which publishes this website, hosts an annual research conference, the Symposium on Yoga Research, and publishes a peer-reviewed journal, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Following are starting points for those interested in learning more about the research that’s been done to date, with an emphasis on larger, good-quality reviews and randomized controlled trials. We’ve grouped these representative studies into categories, but you’ll likely find relevant information in several spots (for example, Cellular effects and Neurological conditions relate to Seniors).

 

General research

Arthritis

Cancer

Cardiovascular health

Cellular effects

Chronic pain

Diabetes

Immune function

Mental health

Musculoskeletal issues

Neurological considerations

Palliative care

  • “Yoga therapy for palliative care is based on gentleness and compassion. It aims to empower the patient to accept and face the illness and death by holistic experience which has physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.” This commentary also notes that mindfulness practices promote emotional regulation through present-moment awareness, acceptance, and nonreactivity, potentially enhancing quality of life.
    Deshpande A. Yoga for palliative care. Integrative Medicine Research 2018;7:211–13.

Pediatrics

Prenatal health

Respiratory health

Seniors

Urinary incontinence

 

*Understandably, most research to date has been conducted on standardized yoga and/or meditation protocols rather than on individualized yoga therapy. As the therapeutic relationship and specifically tailored practices are key to this modality, we might expect enhanced outcomes of yoga therapy compared to a more limited, less individual approach.