Academic Studies on Yoga and Health

This entry highlights several studies being done on yoga and its effects on health. Medical studies and investigations on the physical benefits of yoga conducted by prominent institutions can be accessed through a government web site called Pubmed is a joint service of National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine.

Many of these were brought to my attention by my friend and former therapist Professor Afton L. Hassett, Psy.D. of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She pointed out that through emotional balance, stress reduction and the physical exercise of yoga, the disease process can also be modified.

1. A study on heart disease and integrative medicine (including yoga) can be found
here, from Columbia University’s Dept. of Surgery (and now of Oprah fame: Dr. Mehmet Oz)

Our evolution toward a more integrative approach toward healing will accelerate if we can alter the different perspectives that patients and physicians bring to their relationship. This article reviews lessons that have been acquired using alternative approaches to facilitate the recovery of patients undergoing invasive procedures. After identifying that most of our patients use alternative therapies but prefer not to discuss these therapies with their surgeons, we began to routinely refer our patients to a coordinator trained in this field. The resulting integrative medicine program offers massage, yoga, audiotapes, and additional customized treatments.

2. A study on cardiovascular disease and yoga specifically can be found

To conduct a systematic review of published literature regarding the effects of yoga, a promising mind-body therapy, on specific anthropometric and physiologic indices of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and on related clinical endpoints.

3. A study, done in Germany, focused on Iyengar yoga and alleviating emotional distress.

Emotional distress is an increasing public health problem and Hatha yoga has been claimed to induce stress reduction and empowerment in practicing subjects. We aimed to evaluate potential effects of Iyengar Hatha yoga on perceived stress and associated psychological outcomes in mentally distressed women.

4. A study looked at biochemical indicators of risk for heart disease and diabetes.

The objective of the study was to study the short-term impact of a brief lifestyle intervention based on yoga on some of the biochemical indicators of risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.