ISHAR Articles & References: Yoga

Functional Summary



  • Mind/Body Practices

 Physical exercises combined with spiritual and/or mental meditative practices.


  •  Restoration

  •  Optimization

  • Vedic: Liberating the self through mastering the mind/body connection.
  • Western: Relaxation and cardiovascular exercise.


  • Vedic

  • India

 Pre-Vedic system that dates to India around 500 BCE.  Yoga became more well known in the West during the late 19th century.



Yoga (Sanskrit: योग) is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline that denotes a variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism) and Jainism, the best-known being Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.

The origins of Yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India's ascetic circles, which are also credited with the early sramana movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist Pāli Canon, probably of third century BCE or later. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali from first half of 1st millennium CE is one of a key surviving major texts on Yoga. Hatha yoga texts emerged around 11th century CE, and in its origins was related to Tantrism.

Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is far more than physical exercise, it has a meditative and spiritual core.

Yoga as exercise or alternative medicine is a modern phenomenon which has been influenced by the ancient Indian practice of hatha yoga. It involves holding stretches as a kind of low-impact physical exercise, and is often used for therapeutic purposes. Yoga in this sense often occurs in a class and may involve meditation, imagery, breath work and music.



Both the meditative and the exercise components of hatha yoga have been researched for both specific and non-specific health benefits. Hatha yoga has been studied as an intervention for many conditions, including back pain, stress, and depression.  Studies support yoga improving quality of life, but it has not been proven to effectively treat disease.

A survey released in December 2008 by the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that hatha yoga was the sixth most commonly used alternative therapy in the United States during 2007, with 6.1 percent of the population participating.

Much of the research on Hatha Yoga has been in the form of preliminary studies or clinical trials of mixed methodological quality; issues include small sample sizes, inadequate blinding, lack of randomization, and high risk of bias.[16][17] As of 2011, evidence suggests that Hatha Yoga may be effective at improving health outcomes as a form of mild physical exercise when added to standard care. Hatha Yoga does not have specific and standardization regarding its practice. A study suggested for creation of supported practices that could be distributed and applied for use in clinical practice for patients.[18]


Mental health conditions

Yoga is a core component of the Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program. Drawing from recent research on the mental and physical benefits of practicing yoga, positive psychologists have begun to look deeper into the possibilities of utilizing yoga to improve life for people even in the absence of disease.[18]

The therapeutic benefits of yoga have been discussed by van der Kolk, who explains that because regulation of physical movement is a fundamental priority of the nervous system, focusing on and developing an awareness of physical movement can lead to improved synchrony between mind and body. This is beneficial, he says, especially for those suffering from psychological conditions such as depression and PTSD (the focus of van der Kolk’s work), because an improved sense of connectedness between mind and body give rise to enhanced control and understanding of their "inner sensations" and state of being.[18]

A 2010 literature review of the research on the use of Hatha Yoga for treating depression said that preliminary research suggests that Hatha Yoga may be effective in the management of depression. Both the exercise and the mindfulness meditation components may be helpful. However the review cautioned that "Although results from these trials are encouraging, they should be viewed as very preliminary because the trials, as a group, suffered from substantial methodological limitations."[19]

A 2015 systematic review on the effect of yoga on mood and the brain concluded that "yoga is associated with biological changes in blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol or cytokine levels. It is therefore plausible that yoga may affect mood via SNS and HPA axis regulation."[20] The same review also points to a lack of research in this field and recommends more methodological rigor be applied to future RCTs to solidify these conclusions.

There is some evidence that exercise programs such as yoga may help people with dementia perform their daily activities.[21] No benefit to treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been confirmed, despite some tests.[16] There is some evidence supporting yoga as an alternative treatment for insomnia, however it is not clear whether yoga works better than general relaxation techniques.[22]


Physical health conditions

There is evidence that Hatha Yoga may be effective in the management of chronic, but not necessarily acute, low back pain.[23] There is some evidence to support the use of Hatha Yoga as a complementary therapy for helping people with rheumatic diseases, but the evidence is not concrete and the safety of such a course is uncertain.[24]

Although some evidence exists to suggest Hatha Yoga might help people with high blood pressure, overall this evidence is too weak for treatment to be reliably or safely recommended.[25] There is no evidence of benefit in treatment of epilepsy or menopause-related symptoms.[26][27] Practice of Hatha Yoga may improve quality-of-life measures in cancer patients,[28] though it should be noted yoga has no effect on the underlying disease.[4]


ISHAR strives to present all of our data in an impartial, informative manner.  Nonetheless, there are always different viewpoints on various topics, and ISHAR encourages users to review the perspectives on other informational sites, then come to their own conclusions regarding what they consider the least biased.  The sites below were chosen to represent a wide spectrum of approaches to this topic, and none are endorsed or promoted by ISHAR itself.




  1.  Syman, Stefanie (2010). The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America. Macmillan. pp. 268–273.
  2. Jump up^ Feuerstein, Georg (2006). ""Yogic Meditation"". In Jonathan Shear. The Experience of Meditation. St. Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House. p. 90. While not every branch or school of yoga includes meditation in its technical repertoire, most do.
  3. Jump up^ Editors, of Yoga Journal (2010). "Which Yoga is Right for you?"

    Yoga Journal: 80–85.

  4. Jump up to:a b "Yoga"

    American Cancer Society. 1 November 2008. Retrieved April 2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

  5. Jump up^ Barnes, P. M.; Bloom, B.; Nahin, R. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007
  6. Jump up^ "According to a New Government Survey, 38 Percent of Adults and 12 Percent of Children Use Complementary and Alternative Medicine | NCCIH"
  2008-12-10. Retrieved 2012-03-20.

  7. Jump up to:a b Shaw, Eric. 35 mOMentsYoga Journal, 2010-09.
  8. Jump up^ Goldberg, Philip (2010). American Veda—How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. New York: Crown/Random House. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-385-52134-5.
  9. Jump up^ Forbes Bo. "Yoga Therapy in Practice: Using Integrative Yoga Therapeutics in the Treatment of Comorbid Anxiety and Depression". International Journal of Yoga2008: 87.
  10. Jump up to:a b Cushman, Ann (Jan–Feb 2000). "The New Yoga"

    Yoga p. 68. Retrieved 5 May 2011.

  11. Jump up^ Love, Robert (2010). The Great Oom : the Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. Viking. ISBN 067002175X.
  12. Jump up^ Silva, Mira, and Mehta, Shyam. (1995). Yoga the Iyengar Way, p. 9. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. ISBN 978-0-89381-731-2
  13. Jump up^ Desikachar, T. K. V. (2005). Health, healing and beyond: Yoga and the living tradition of Krishnamacharya, (cover jacket text). Aperture, US. ISBN 978-0-89381-731-2
  14. Jump up^ Barnes, P.; Powell-Griner, E.; McFann, K.; Nahin, R. CDC Advance Data Report #343. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2002
  15. Jump up^ Marc Woolford About the Yoga.... yoga is meant for anyone that wishes to improve physical and psychological health
  16. Jump up to:a b Krisanaprakornkit, T.; Ngamjarus, C.; Witoonchart, C.; Piyavhatkul, N. (2010). "Meditation therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Online) (6): CD006507. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006507.pub2

    PMID 20556767



  17. Jump up^ Uebelacker, L. A.; Epstein-Lubow, G.; Gaudiano, B. A.; Tremont, G.; Battle, C. L.; Miller, I. W. (2010). "Hatha yoga for depression: critical review of the evidence for efficacy, plausible mechanisms of action, and directions for future research". Journal of Psychiatric Practice16 (1): 22–33. doi:10.1097/01.pra.0000367775.88388.96

    PMID 20098228



  18. Jump up to:a b c Salmon, Paul; Lush, Elizabeth; Jablonski, Megan; Sephton, Sandra E. (February 2009). "Yoga and Mindfulness: Clinical Aspects of an Ancient Mind/Body". Cognitive and Behavioral Practice16 (1): 59–72. doi:10.1016/j.cbpra.2008.07.002


  19. Jump up^ Uebelacker LA, Epstein-Lubow G, Gaudiano BA, Tremont G, Battle CL, Miller IW (January 2010). "Hatha yoga for depression: critical review of the evidence for efficacy, plausible mechanisms of action, and directions for future research". J Psychiatr Pract16 (1): 22–33. doi:10.1097/01.pra.0000367775.88388.96

    PMID 20098228



  20. Jump up^ Pascoe, Michaela C.; Bauer, Isabelle E. (2015-09-01). "A systematic review of randomised control trials on the effects of yoga on stress measures and mood". Journal of Psychiatric Research68: 270–282. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.07.013

    ISSN 1879-1379


    PMID 26228429



  21. Jump up^ Forbes, Dorothy; Forbes, Scott C.; Blake, Catherine M.; Thiessen, Emily J.; Forbes, Sean (2015-04-15). "Exercise programs for people with dementia". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4): CD006489. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006489.pub4

    ISSN 1469-493X


    PMID 25874613



  22. Jump up^ Taylor DJ, Grieser EA, Tatum JI (2010). "Other Nonpharmacological Treatments of Insomnia". In Sateia MJ, Buysse D. Insomnia: Diagnosis and Treatment

    . CRC Press. p. 291. ISBN 9781420080803.

  23. Jump up^ [old info]Chou R, Huffman LH (October 2007). "Nonpharmacologic therapies for acute and chronic low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline". Ann. Intern. Med147 (7): 492–504. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-147-7-200710020-00007

    PMID 17909210



  24. Jump up^ Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Dobos G (November 2013). "Yoga for rheumatic diseases: a systematic review". Rheumatology (Oxford)52 (11): 2025–30. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/ket264

    PMID 23934220



  25. Jump up^ Wang J, Xiong X, Liu W (2013). "Yoga for essential hypertension: a systematic review"

    PLoS ONE8 (10): e76357. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076357


    PMC 3790704


    Freely accessiblePMID 24124549



  26. Jump up^ Panebianco, Mariangela; Sridharan, Kalpana; Ramaratnam, Sridharan (2015-05-02). "Yoga for epilepsy". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (5): CD001524. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001524.pub2

    ISSN 1469-493X


    PMID 25934967



  27. Jump up^ Lee, M. S.; Kim, J. I.; Ha, J. Y.; Boddy, K.; Ernst, E. (2009). "Yoga for menopausal symptoms: a systematic review". Menopause (New York, N.Y.)16 (3): 602–608. doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31818ffe39

    PMID 19169169



  28. Jump up^ Smith, K. B.; Pukall, C. F. (May 2009). "An evidence-based review of yoga as a complementary intervention for patients with cancer". Psycho-oncology18 (5): 465–475. doi:10.1002/pon.1411

    PMID 18821529



  29. Jump up^ Cramer H, Krucoff C, Dobos G (2013). "Adverse events associated with yoga: a systematic review of published case reports and case series"

    PLoS ONE8 (10): e75515. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075515


    PMC 3797727


    Freely accessiblePMID 24146758



  30. Jump up^ Penman S, Cohen M, Stevens P, Jackson S (July 2012). "Yoga in Australia: Results of a national survey"

    Int J Yoga5 (2): 92–101. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.98217


    PMC 3410203


    Freely accessiblePMID 22869991



  31. Jump up^ Distasio S (2008). "Integrating Yoga into Cancer Care". Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing12 (1): 125–130. doi:10.1188/08.CJON.125-130

    PMID 18258582



  32. Jump up^ Caso V, Paciaroni M, Bogousslavsky J (2005). "Environmental factors and cervical artery dissection". Front Neurol Neurosci20: 44–53. doi:10.1159/000088134

    PMID 17290110