Yoga for Disease Prevention

We're always looking for more data to add to our index, so if you know of a yoga research study that you don't see here, pass it along to us. Send relevant scholarly articles to Yoga Alliance® supports the continued research on yoga’s benefits, and we will continue to update the page with more research on more health topics. 

Last updated: July 19, 2017

Yoga Alliance recommends that any individuals with health concerns consult with a qualified health care practitioner to discuss whether yoga is right for them, but we are aware that yoga can be used in the medical treatment context by appropriately qualified and licensed healthcare practitioners. Yoga Alliance credentials do not serve as qualifications for the diagnosis or treatment of health conditions.

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“Six months yoga program is safe and effective as an adjuvant therapy in improving renal functions and QOL [quality of life] of CKD [chronic kidney disease] patients.”
–Pandey et al (2017), International Journal of Yoga


“Paired sample t-tests reveal statistically significant improvements in well-being for adults with PD [Parkinson’s disease] and their caregivers after attending an LY [Laughter Yoga] session.”
–DeCaro et al (2016), EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing



“Yoga and SC (sports climbing) might improve some of the MS [multiple sclerosis] symptoms and should be considered in the future as possible complementary treatments.”
– Velikonja et al (2010), Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery



“Yogic breathing exercises not only help in relieving the stresses of life but also improve the antioxidant status of the individual. An improvement in the antioxidant status is helpful in preventing many pathological processes that are known with impaired antioxidant system of body.”
– Bhattacharya et al (2002), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“These observations suggest that a short lifestyle modification [based on yoga] and stress management educational program leads to remarkable improvement in the subjective well being scores of the subjects and can therefore make an appreciable contribution to primary prevention as well as management of lifestyle diseases.”
– Sharma et al (2008), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“The present study examined if a yogic meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral transcription control pathways that shape immune cell gene expression. . . A brief daily yogic meditation intervention may reverse the pattern of increased NF-κB-related transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased IRF1-related transcription of innate antiviral response genes previously observed in healthy individuals confronting a significant life stressor.”
– Black et al (2013), Psychoneuroendocrinology



“Subjects with MS [multiple sclerosis] participating in either a 6-month yoga class or exercise class showed significant improvement in measures of fatigue compared to a waiting-list control group.”
– Oken et al (2004), Neurology



“Long standing lymphedema caused altered gait and joint deformities in small and large volume limbs. Yoga postures improve movements and helped the patients to negotiate with these deformities. In this pilot observational study, Yoga as an adjunct to other components in integrative treatment improved the gait problems“
– Aggithaya et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“[Yoga and pranayama] have no side effects but still offer the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease, thus improving long-term outcomes and reducing overall health care costs. While the effects of medication are temporary…the effects of consistent practice of yoga and pranayama are permanent, resetting the autonomic nervous system to one of parasympathetic dominance.“
– Chaddha et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“A combined pelvic muscle exercise and yoga program was effective for improving overall urinary incontinence. Daily performance of pelvic muscle exercises was positively correlated with incontinence factor and with quality of life related to urinary tract symptoms.”
Kim et al (2015), Japan Journal of Nursing Science



“In this…study, participation in [a relaxation response-based mind-body group intervention] was associated with improvements in disease-specific measures, trait anxiety, and pain catastrophizing in [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] and [Inflammatory Bowel Disease] patients.”
– Kuo et al (2015), PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science open-access journal)



“A significant improvement in QOL [quality of life] scores was observed for the three health related QOL domains in [Sudarshan Kriya yoga] intervention arm. This low cost strategy improved physical and psychological state of [people living with HIV] calling for upscaling with effective monitoring for sustainability of quality of life.”
– Mawar et al (2015), The Indian Journal of Medical Research



“Despite low energy expenditure, yoga practices are better in some cardiorespiratory fitness parameters than other aerobic activities recommended by current guidelines for [cardiovascular disease] prevention. The yoga group has statistically significantly higher maximum performance per kilogram and maximum oxygen consumption per kilogram per minute [than those performing regular aerobic physical activities].“
– Sovová et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“Yoga regimen was found to improve lung functions and diffusion capacity in CAD [coronary artery disease] patients besides improving cardiovascular functions. In this study, an improvement in almost all the parameters was observed in CAD patients after following 3 months of yoga regimen.“
– Yadav et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“Yoga has potential utility as a complementary and alternative therapy for chronic diseases and can help older adults to maintain their health.“
– Eda (2014), Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics



“This study has demonstrated that a yoga intervention can lower blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension.”
Hagins et al (2014), The Journal of Clinical Hypertension



“These preliminary findings suggest that Hatha yoga has the potential to play an important role in pediatric obesity…and support the use of Hatha yoga as a safe and promising intervention for improving aspects of physical and psychosocial functioning in severely obese adolescents.“
– Hainsworth et al (2014), Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy



“Yoga was found to be a feasible and well accepted adjunct treatment for alcohol dependence. Alcohol consumption reduced more in the treatment as usual plus yoga group…compared to the treatment as usual only group.”
– Hallgren et al (2014), Complementary Therapies in Medicine



“Among Indians with elevated fasting blood glucose,…an 8-week yoga intervention was feasible and resulted in greater weight loss and reduction in waist circumference when compared to a walking control. Yoga offers a promising lifestyle intervention for decreasing weight-related type 2 diabetes risk factors and potentially increasing psychological well-being”
– McDermott et al (2014), BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“A group therapeutic-yoga intervention may improve multiple aspects of physical functioning after stroke. Such an intervention may be complementary to traditional rehabilitation.”
– Posadzki et al (2014), Complementary Therapies in Medicine



“Yoga…has been shown to reduce inflammation and may help improve symptoms of urge urinary incontinence.”
– Tenfelde et al (2014), The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine



“Mind–body practices have encouraging results for patients with cardiac disease.”
– Younge et al (2014), European Journal for Preventative Cardiology



“A six week yoga program for children may result in improved strength, balance, flexibility, and functional mobility in children with diplegic CP.“
– Buggiski et al (2013), Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy



“In conclusion, patients with chronic diseases who regularly practiced yoga reported better overall health status and physical quality of life than those who did not. Practicing yoga under naturalistic conditions seems to be associated with improved physical health in chronically diseased patients.”
– Cramer et al (2013), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of Yogic Practice on anxiety/depression associated with obesity. …weight, BMI, [waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-height ratio,] depression and anxiety improved…more in the yoga group, than in Aerobic group.“
– Dhananjai et al (2013), International Journal of Yoga



“These findings suggest that the Hatha yoga exercise has therapeutic, preventative, and protective effects in [end-stage renal disease] subjects, by decreasing oxidative stress.“
– Gordon et al (2013), International Journal of Yoga



“Practicing yoga in conjunction with medications can be helpful in controlling and/or alleviation of symptoms related to digestive diseases.“
– Kaswala et al (2013), International Journal of Yoga



“…We conclude that practice of yoga can regress early atherosclerosis in [metabolic syndrome, a strong risk factor for Coronary Heart Disease and type II Diabetes,] and has also beneficial effects on several metabolic parameters.“
– Manchanda SC et al (2013), Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy



“Based on our findings, slow breathing with similar inspiration and expiration times appears the most effective and simple way to heighten the [baroreflex sensitivity] and improve oxygenation in normoxia. These findings might be relevant for…yoga-based rehabilitation programs, as previous studies have shown that patients with different pathological conditions…may benefit from…slow breathing.”
– Mason et al (2013), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“The yoga exercises performed in the proposed sequence constitute complementary non-pharmacological control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension. The yoga group showed a significant reduction of systolic blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate.“
– Mizuno et al (2013), Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies



“[For adolescents with polycystic ovarian syndrome,] a holistic yoga program for 12 weeks is significantly better than physical exercise in reducing [anti-müllerian hormone, luteinizing hormone], testosterone, [and]…hirsutism, and improving menstrual frequency with nonsignificant changes in body weight, [follicle-stimulating hormone], and prolactin.”
– Nidhi et al (2013), The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine



“The [Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction] program is effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, perceived stress, [blood pressure] and [body mass index] in patients with [coronary heart disease].“
– Parswani et al (2013), International Journal of Yoga



“There was a statistically significant increase in…lung parameters in the regular yoga practitioners. This resultant effect of pranayama can be used as a lung strengthening tool to treat many lung diseases like asthma, allergic bronchitis, post pneumonia and tuberculosis recoveries, and many occupational diseases.”
– Shankarappa V. et al (2013), Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research



“These results suggest that yoga may have ancillary benefits in terms of improved physical function, enhanced mental/emotional state, enriched sleep quality, and improved lifestyle choices, and may be useful as a health promotion strategy in the prevention and management of chronic disease.”
– Alexander et al (2012), Complementary Therapies in Medicine



“These findings suggest that Hatha yoga exercise has preventive and beneficial effects and may be a safe therapeutic modality in [end-stage renal disease] patients.”
– Gordon et al (2012), Journal of Laboratory Physicians



“These preliminary findings suggest yoga may offer an effective intervention for improving sleep, mood, perceived stress, and blood pressure in older women with [restless leg syndrome].”
– Innes et al (2012), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“Twelve weeks of a holistic yoga program in adolescents with PCOS [polycystic ovarian syndrome] is significantly better than physical exercise program in reducing anxiety symptoms.“
– Nidhi et al (2012), International Journal of Yoga



“This study points to the safety and effectiveness of integrated Yoga for bladder symptoms as an adjunct to standard care in multiple sclerosis patients with neurogenic bladder dysfunction.”
– Patil et al (2012), Complementary Therapies in Medicine



“The data yielded evidence that the sensory-enhanced hatha yoga program helped significantly reduce both state and trait anxiety [related to combat stress in deployed military personnel].”
–Stoller et al (2012), American Journal of Occupational Therapy



“The observations suggest that a short-term, yoga-based lifestyle intervention may significantly reduce anxiety and improve subjective well-being and personality in patients with chronic diseases.“
– Yadav (2012), International Journal of Yoga



“Findings based on…[randomized clinical trials] available in the literature suggest that [complementary and alternative medicine] exercises—Tai Chi, qigong, and yoga—demonstrate considerable promise in the management of [osteoarthritis] symptoms.”
– Chyu et al (2011), Arthritis



“We conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of…[Iyengar Yoga] versus enhanced usual care on [blood pressure] in…adults with untreated hypertension or Stage 1 hypertension. Twelve weeks of IY [Iyengar yoga] produces clinically meaningful improvements in [systolic BP] and [diastolic BP].”
– Cohen et al (2011), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“A long-term yoga practice was associated with little or no obesity in a non-probability sample of women over 45 years. Relationships showed a dose-response effect, with increased yoga experience predicting lower BMI and reduced medication use.”
– Moliver et al (2011), International Journal of Yoga



“Reduction of [systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure], heart rate, body fat [percentage], total cholesterol, triglycerides and [low density lipoprotein] after regular yogic practices is beneficial for cardiac and hypertensive patients. Therefore yogic practices included in this study are helpful for the patients of coronary artery disease.”
– Pal et al (2011), Complementary Therapies in Medicine



“In a 3‐armed randomized controlled trial in female patients suffering from fibromyalgia, patients benefited modestly from a mindfulness‐based stress reduction intervention.”
– Schmidt et al (2011), Pain: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain



“It can be concluded that yoga is valuable in helping the hypothyroid patients to manage their disease-related symptoms. Yoga may be considered as supportive or complementary therapy in conjunction with medical therapy for the treatment of hypothyroid disorder.”
– Singh et al (2011), Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice



“This preliminary study indicates that a yoga program would be a possible risk reduction option for adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, yoga holds promise as an approach to reducing cardiometabolic risk factors and increasing exercise self-efficacy for this group.”
– Yang et al (2011), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“Among traditional lifestyle modifications, yoga is a low-cost, simple to administer, nonpharmacological, popular behavioural intervention that can lower blood pressure in pre-hypertensive HIV-infected adults with mild–moderate [cardiovascular disease] risk factors.”
Cade et al (2010), HIV Medicine



“At post‐treatment, women assigned to the yoga program showed significantly greater improvements on standardized measures of [fibromyalgia] symptoms and functioning, including pain, fatigue, and mood, and in pain catastrophizing, acceptance, and other coping strategies. This pilot study provides promising support for the potential benefits of a yoga program for women with [fibromyalgia].”
– Carson et al (2010), Pain: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain



“Yoga practice was safe, with participants experiencing improved physical function and symptom stability [in patients with heart failure].“
– Howie-Esquivel et al (2010), Journal of Cardiac Failure



“The present study examined the effects of a 6-week Yoga Nidra meditation programme on perceived stress in multiple sclerosis and cancer patients. Overall stress was significantly reduced over the course of the programme.”
– Pritchard et al (2009), Stress & Health



“Yoga improved exercise tolerance and positively affected levels of inflammatory markers in patients with [heart failure], and there was also a trend toward improvements in [quality of life].“
– Pullen et al (2008), Journal of Cardiac Failure



“Yoga and meditation appear to improve endothelial function in subjects with [coronary artery disease].”
Sivasankaran et al (2007), Clinical Cardiology



“Results extend the antidepressant effects of [Sudarshana Kriya Yoga] in alcohol dependence subjects. Reduction in stress-hormone levels (cortisol and ACTH) along with [Beck Depression Inventory] reductions possibly support a biological mechanism of SKY in producing beneficial effects.“
– Vedamurthachar et al (2006), Journal of Affective Disorders



“The improved level of infection, radiographic picture, [forced vital capacity (lung capacity)], weight gain and reduced symptoms in the yoga group suggest a complementary role for yoga in the management of pulmonary tuberculosis.”
Visweswaraiah et al (2004), Respirology






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