A new study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (July 2015) reports that there is surge in clinical research on yoga for certain illnesses and medical conditions. The researched examined articles published between 1967 and 2013 and found 486 articles published in 217 different peer-reviewed journals from 29 countries.
About half of clinical studies of yoga (45%) were randomized controlled trials, which are considered the highest level of clinical evidence. The top three diseases studied with yoga were mental health, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease (like asthma).
Clinical research of yoga, however, continues to face challenges. There are also significant limitations in funding, time, and resources. Researchers often use different types of yoga (often not specified), lengths of study, and frequency of practice. Studies also draw from a variety of yoga breathing, postures, and meditation. Standardization would help advance and clarify the role of yoga in treatment.
With one in ten Americans practicing yoga and nearly half (45%) of Americans saying that they are interested in doing yoga, now is the time to examine the healing role of yoga. More high-quality, evidence-based research will help us know how best to integrate yoga into the medical treatment of illnesses.