Yoga: Friend with benefits

a guide to the benefits of yoga

Based on the result of the 2016 Yoga in America Study, more Americans are practicing yoga today, ~37 million, up 20 million since the last survey in 2012. Yoga is broadly seen as a positive activity for physical & mental health. Not only are more Americans practicing yoga today but more clinical research is being conducted to study the health benefits of yoga.

Research indicates yoga improves the following conditions:

ADHD * anxiety * arrhythmia * arthritis * asthma * bipolar disordercancer * carpal tunnel syndrome * CHF * COPD * depression * diabetes * drug withdrawal * eating disorders * epilepsy * fibromyalgia * heart disease * HIV/AIDS * hypertension * IBS * IBD * incontinence (stress) * infertility * insomnia * menopausal/peri-menopausal symptoms * migraine * multiple sclerosis * neuroses (phobias) * OCD * osteoarthritis * osteoporosis * pain (chronic) * pancreatitis * pregnancy * rheumatoid arthritis * rhinitis * scoliosis * schizophrenia * sinusitis * stress * substance abuse * tuberculosis

IMPROVES: autonomic balance * body awareness * brain function * cardiovascular function * diaphragmatic breathing * endurance * endocrine function * flexibility * gastrointestinal function * immune function * joint range of motion * memory * mood * muscle mass * nervous system function * posture * psychological health * quality of life * resiliency * respiratory function * strength * self-awareness * sexual functionsleep * stability

REDUCES: blood pressure * heart rate *  inflammation * muscle tension * pulse * respiratory rate * risk of heart attack & stroke

LOWERS: adrenaline * catecholamines * cortisol levels * glucose levels * LDL cholesterol * monoamine oxidase * sodium * total cholesterol * total white blood cell count * triglycerides

INCREASES: alpha waves * ATPase * blood flow * carbon dioxide elimination * cholinesterase * circulation of lymph * energy levels * GABA levels * heart rate variability * hematocrit * hemoglobin * HDL cholesterol * lymphocyte count * oxygen absorption * oxytocin * prolactin * RBCs * serotonin * total serum protein * theta waves * thyroxin * vagus nerve stimulation


Atkinson NL et al Benefits, barriers, and cues to action of yoga practice: A focus group approach. Am J Health Behav. 2009;33:3–14.
Collins C. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicine & treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs.
Desikachar K et al. The yoga of healing: Exploring yoga’s holistic model for health & well-being. Int J Yoga Ther. 2005;15:17–39.
Smith JA. Is there more to yoga than exercise? Altern Ther Health Med. 2011. 17(3):22-9
Woodyard, C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga & its ability to increase QoL. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-Dec; 4(2): 49–54
ADHD Jensen PS et al. The effects of yoga on the attention and behavior of boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). J Atten Disord. 2004;7(4):205–216.
CVD + HIV Cade WT, Reeds DN, Mondy KE, et al. Yoga lifestyle intervention reduces blood pressure in HIV-infected adults with cardiovascular disease risk factors. HIV Med. 2010;11(6):379–388.
EATING DISORDER McIver S, O’Halloran P, McGartland M. Yoga as a treatment for binge eating disorder: a preliminary study. Complement Ther Med. 2009;17(4):196–202.
EPILEPSY+ MENTAL HEALTH + ANS Streeter CC et al. Effects of yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System, gamma-aminobutyric-acid & allostasis in epilepsy, depression & PTSD. 2012 May;78(5):571-9. 
GABA Streeter CC et al. 2010.  Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. J of alt & comp med. 16(11): 1145-52
GABA Streeter CC et al. Yoga asana sessions increased brain GABA levels:  a pilot study J of alternative & complementary medicine. 2007. 13(4): 419-26
HIV Penzak SR et al. Depression & patients with HIV infection. Am J health system pharm. 2000.  57(4): 376-89
HRV Cheema BS, Houridis A, Busch L, et al. Effect of an office worksite-based yoga program on heart rate variability: outcomes of a RCT. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013;13:82.
MENTAL HEALTH Shapiro D, Cline K et al. Mood changes associated with Iyengar Yoga practices: a pilot studyIntl J of Yoga Therapy. 2004. 14:35-44.
PARKINSON’S Colgrove YS, Sharma N, Kluding P, et al. Effect of yoga on motor function in people with Parkinson’s disease: a randomized, controlled pilot study. J Yoga Phys Ther. 2012;2(2):112.
RHEUMATIC DISEASE Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, et al. Yoga for rheumatic diseases: a systematic review. Rheumatology. 2013;52(11):2025–2030.