But what about the scientific community?
As reported in the New York Times, in 2015 the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges released a thorough review of randomised, controlled studies (that means they’re respected studies with “scientifically significant” results). Their report concluded that exercise is the Miracle Cure (1) It would seem that physical activity has been grossly overlooked as both a prevention and a cure to many of the illnesses and diseases facing our modern day society. According to the report “regular exercise can prevent dementia, type2 diabetes, some cancers, depression, heart disease and other common serious conditions… better than many drugs.” On the back of this report, doctors are being recommended to get people active!
Yoga is a great physical activity as there are so many different types, styles and levels (See Part 1 – If you Can Breathe, You can Do Yoga) This means it really can be a lifelong pursuit for everyone; just find your own pace and adjust as necessary.
As yoga becomes increasingly popular, more and more studies are being conducted and the results regarding the benefits of yoga are becoming less anecdotal and more and more significant to the scientific community:-
An early 2007 study of breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy found that not only does yoga ease psychological stress levels in patients but it helps on a cellular level with recovery from Radiation damage, too. (2) A later – randomized, controlled and slightly more complex – trial of the same demographic proved that “yoga improved QOL [Quality of Life] and physiological changes associated with Radiotherapy beyond the benefits of simple stretching exercises, and these benefits appear to have long-term durability”. (3)
In a pilot study on yoga as treatment for lower back pain, at the 4 week follow up, the yoga group reported significantly less pain. (4) The National Scoliosis Foundation recommends practicing the yoga pose Side Plank under instruction and then at home at least 3 times per week after researchers found this improved spine curvature by up to almost 50%! (5)