Yoga Research

A recent bibliometric analysis of yoga research as a therapeutic intervention found 486 articles with 217 in peer reviewed journals from 29 countries. The report finds that there has been a three-fold increase in the number of publications in the past 10 years with the most publications originating in India, followed by the US and Canada. The top three disorders addressed by yoga interventions include: mental health, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.  (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26196166)

Listing of yoga related research studies on varied health conditions below.  You may link to more information by clicking on the title of the study.

Yoga Asana increases brain GABA levels: a pilot study ( May 2007)

     This pilot study found increase in GABA ( neurotransmitter associated with improved mood) levels in yoga practitioners after 60 minute yoga session compared to 60 minute reading session.

Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety, and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. ( Nov 2010)

     The 12-week yoga intervention was associated with greater improvements in mood and anxiety than a metabolically matched walking exercise.  This is the first study to demonstrate that increased thalamic GABA levels are associated with improved mood and decreased anxiety. 

Yoga-Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Y-CBT) for Anxiety Management: A Pilot Study. ( July 2015)

    After the CBT + kundalini yoga intervention, pre-post comparisons showed statistically significant improvements in state and trait anxiety, depression, panic, sleep and quality of life. 

Effect of yoga on pain, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and serotonin in premenopausal women with chronic low back pain. ( July 2014)

     This study aimed to evaluate the effect of yoga on back pain, BDNF and serotonin of pre-menopausal women who practiced yoga 3X a week for 12 weeks. 

Yoga increases the volume of the hippocampus in elderly subjects. (July 2013)

     6 month yoga intervention of small group of elderly found to increase hippocampus volume.  

Neuroprotective effects of yoga practice : age-, experience -, and frequency - dependent plasticity. (May 2015)

     Regular practice of yoga may have neuroprotective effects against whole brain age related grey matter decline. Results of this study suggest that more weekly regular yoga practice is associated with larger brain volume in areas involved with bodily representation, attention, self-relevant processing, visualization and stress regulation.  

Slow breathing and hyoxic challenge: cardiorespiratory consequences and their central neural substrates. (May 2015)

     Yoga practitioners represent one section of society that engages in slow breathing exercises for both psychological and physical health benefits.  Mental states of calmness and well-being reportedly accompany slow yogic breathing and associated physcial positions.  

Insular cortex mediates increased pain tolerance in yoga practitioners. ( Oct 2014)

     Findings suggest that regular and long-term yoga practice improves pain tolerance in  by teaching different ways to deal with sensory inputs and the potential emotional reactions attached to those inputs leading to a change in insular brain anatomy and connectivity.  

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Yoga as Remedial Therapy. ( May 2015)

Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial. ( June 2014)

Yoga as the "next wave" of therapeutic modalities for treatment of insomnia. ( Sept 2014)

Reducing the symtomatology of panic disorder: the effects of a yoga program alone and in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy. (Dec 2014)