We fairly consistently cover the cross section of yoga and science because we figure both sides — if you want to set them as counter to each other — can benefit from the strengths of the other. Yoga that takes scientific findings into consideration isn’t going to be worse; science can perhaps learn that there is more than meets the eye.
Apparently we aren’t along in our thinking. This reporter at Vox delved into 50 studies to satisfy her curiosity:
I wanted a more objective view on the health effects of yoga, so I turned to science, reading more than 50 studies and review articles and talking to seven of the world’s leading yoga researchers. Almost immediately, I was struck by how weak the research on yoga is. Most studies were small and badly designed or plagued by self-selection bias. Making matters worse, there are so many varying styles of yoga that it’s tough to say how meaningful evidence about one style is for others.
Still, what I learned is that there are a few things we can say about yoga, based on the available research. Yoga probably won’t hurt you, despite what haters claim, and it appears to be just as good for your health as other similar forms of exercise.
Yes, the New York Times article you recall gets mentioned. You’ll be happy with her conclusion: “But that piece was largely based on cherry-picked anecdotes, exaggerating these horrible cases to suggest they were representative of the broader yoga experience when they simply aren’t.”
You may be at times frustrated, though:
4) Does yoga have long-term health benefits?
Possibly. To be clear, there’s currently no direct evidence on yoga’s long-term benefits. Researchers simply haven’t tracked yogis over a span of 20 years or more and followed up to see whether they get diseases at a lower rate than non-yogis.
We now will await the report on 50 studies about coffee’s benefit.
(And speaking of a beverage, you saw the Lululemon beer story?)
Posted by Steve