Yoga has an origin in the Indian philosophy and is practiced in the modern-day, with each type of discipline having unique techniques. The main application of yoga is a therapeutic intervention that has psychological and physiological effects. However, a medical benefit to the exercise has not been scientifically proven. Most studies on the topic were conducted in India and prove to be inconsistent or inconclusive. The article seeks to encompass current evidence on the clinical effects of yoga.
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The most studied effect of yoga is its influence on mental health. As a treatment for depression, there was no consistent evidence. However, fatigue and anxiety disorder studies showed that yoga has a potential benefit to be used as treatment; however, further comprehensive studies should be done. Yoga has proven to be beneficial and as efficient as other methods in lowering stress and PTSD symptoms. The AHRQ reports similar conclusions that yoga helps to reduce stress.
Studies were done to study the effects of yoga on the fitness levels of the elderly. They showed a moderate effect on balance and body strength. Cardiovascular endurance in studies showed improvement along with increased fitness. More conclusive studies need to be done on sympathetic/parasympathetic activation as well as yoga helping older adults retain function and self-autonomy through physical fitness. Yoga has shown inconsistent or insignificant benefits to the cardiopulmonary system.
Yoga is an intervention method for glucose regulation. Results were varied but showing a small improvement in fasting glucose, as cited by the AHRQ. Meanwhile, there was no noticeable effect on menopausal systems. When dealing with specific diseases like cancer or epilepsy, yoga helped deal with psychological pressure and stress but showed no physiological impact. Due to the physical aspect of yoga, there was a clinically meaningful improvement when dealing with musculoskeletal functioning and pain for relieving pressure and therapeutic relaxation, sometimes more helpful than other interventions.
The collective review established the benefits of yoga to some extent in all areas of health. However, further studies and analyses are needed for conclusive evidence. The experiments are few and are often poorly developed and not scientifically acceptable. Since yoga has the plausibility of impacting the psychophysiological well-being, it is important to investigate the discipline. A major concern for these studies is intensity and motivation. It is highly unlikely that a normal person in Western culture would practice yoga as often as in the studies.
Meanwhile, people with mental health problems may lack the motivation to participate. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the effect of yoga outside of controlled studies. However, social support for the patients and the discipline may present solutions. Studies on a larger and more scientifically reliable scale should be conducted to identify the type of patients, and which aspects of yoga would be most compatible. Yoga helps improve physical fitness and self-competence, but due to methodological limitations of the conducted research, it is not proven as an effective clinical treatment (Büssing et al. 1-7).
Büssing, Arndt, et al. “Effects of Yoga on Mental and Physical Health: A Short Summary of Reviews.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, 2012, pp. 1-7.