Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Science and Yoga

Source: NY Times
Last weekend I plowed through The Science of Yoga by New York Times science writer, William J Broad. I do not practice yoga yet find myself intrigued by its purported health and fitness benefits.

Here is a comprehensive review of comparative medical studies on the health benefits of yoga.

Overall, the studies comparing the effects of yoga and exercise suggest that yoga may be as effective or better than exercise at improving a variety of health-related outcomes. These include heart rate variability, blood glucose, blood lipids, cortisol level, and oxidative stress. Yoga is inferior to regular aerobic exercise for aerobic fitness as measure by VO2 max.Yoga also appears to improve subjective measures of fatigue, pain, and sleep in both sick and well populations. 

This is all very encouraging, but as I learned, there are risks associated with yoga too, reports include musculoskeletal injuries, neck injuries and even strokes from thrombosis (clotting) of the vertebral arteries from neck contortions. To read how yoga can wreck your body, click here.

An additional caveat is that the practice of yoga, as a healing art, is not regulated like medicine, physical therapy and dentistry. No national standard exists for training, certification and licensing. Hence, guidance, supervision and quality of outcome and risk of injury can vary tremendously.


  1. Hey Gonzalo, Choosing to do yoga is an excellent choice to kick-start your healthy lifestyle and health and fitness movement that focuses on helping you to achieve that optimal balance between a healthy mind and a fit body.

  2. If you are a Yoga teacher, or thinking about becoming a Yoga teacher, the concepts contained within this series will save you money and, potentially, earn you a lot more money. None of us has to teach Yoga; we choose to teach Yoga because we love it and know the many rewards of steady Yoga practice.

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