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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.

yoga improves the following conditions:





  • 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: red blood cells
  • serotonin
  • total serum protein
  • theta waves
  • thyroxin
  • vagus nerve stimulation

Atkinson N.L. 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 J.A. 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 P.S. et al. The effects of yoga on the attention and behavior of boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Atten Disord. 2004;7(4):205–216.

CVD + HIV: Cade W.T. 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 DISORDERS: McIver S. et al. Yoga as a treatment for binge eating disorder: a preliminary study. Complement Ther Med. 2009;17(4):196–202.

GABA: Streeter C.C. et al. Effects of yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System, GABA and allostasis in epilepsy, depression and PTSD. 2012. 78(5):571-9. 

GABA: Streeter C.C. et al. Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. J of alt & comp med. 2010. 16(11): 1145-52

GABA: Streeter CC et al. Yoga asana sessions increased brain GABA levels: a pilot study. J of alt & compl med. 2007. 13(4): 419-26

HIV: Penzak S.R. et al. Depression & Patients with HIV Infection. Am J Health System Pharm. 2000. 57(4): 376-89

HRV: Cheema B.S. et al. Effect of an office worksite-based yoga program on heart rate variability: outcomes of a RCTBMC Complement Altern Med. 2013;13:82.

MENTAL HEALTH: Shapiro D. et al. Mood changes associated with Iyengar Yoga practices: a pilot study. Intl J of Yoga Therapy. 2004. 14:35-44.

PARKINSON’S: Colgrove Y.S. et al. Effect of yoga on motor function in people with Parkinson’s disease: a randomized, controlled pilot studyJ Yoga Phys Ther. 2012;2(2):112.

RHEUMATIC DISEASE: Cramer H et al. Yoga for rheumatic diseases: a systematic review. Rheumatology. 2013;52(11):2025–2030.