This blog has covered the topic of yoga before. Certainly, yoga can be beneficial to overall health and wellness, and some of the stretching and toning moves can ease back pain and improve flexibility. Some practitioners are integrating yoga in their medical treatment. Studies have shown the benefits of yoga: decrease depression, reduce lower back pain, etc.

But are we overstating the benefits of yoga?

Some say that yes, the benefits of yoga are being overhyped. A recent opinion piece delved further into this – can yoga really help treat diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and more? Those are claims that have been made, and studies that have been done before. Could yoga really be a cure for everything?

Studies about Yoga

It all depends. When studies are done on medication, it is easy to see that one group had the medication and one group had the placebo. With yoga, it is much less precise. There are issues with blinding the study, which refers to keeping study participants unaware of their assigned treatment. So, a study participant would take a pill every day, but they wouldn’t know if they are taking the medicine or the placebo. There can be no blinding in a yoga study. There can only be a group that does not do yoga at all, which is not the same due to the placebo effect.

The placebo effect refers to, “physical or emotional change that occurs after a participant in a research study takes a placebo. The change, which may include the lessening of symptoms, is not the result of chemical effects of the placebo because the placebo does not contain any active ingredients. The change is often based on the participant’s or researcher’s expectation that a change will occur.” Thus, in a yoga study, the people doing yoga may have the placebo effect whereas the group not doing yoga at all won’t have any placebo effect.

Issues with Methodology

Many studies, including this one about yoga for asthma, have found that the methodology of doing such studies is poor. They run into the problems listed above, with blinding and randomization. Another assessment of yoga for hypertension found that the “methodological quality of the included trials was evaluated as generally low,” and therefore “a definite conclusion about the efficacy and safety of yoga on [hypertension] cannot be drawn.”

However, that does not mean you shouldn’t do yoga. Yoga can definitely help with health, fitness, stress levels, and even pain. The findings of this article are really just that some of the benefits are overstated. It does not mean there are no benefits at all.

If you enjoy doing yoga, keep doing it. If you want to try something new, yoga is a worthwhile exercise that combines mind and body wellness.

If you are experiencing back pain, contact us. Or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-890-1964 to learn more.