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Exploring Yoga: Modern Medicine is Catching Up

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Is Yoga Medicine?

Is Yoga Medicine? This question lies at the intersection of ancient wisdom and modern science. As yoga continues to gain popularity worldwide, its therapeutic potential is being explored more rigorously. In this blog, we delve into the evidence & anecdotes surrounding yoga’s role in promoting health and healing. 

One of the greatest yogis of our time, BKS Iyengar, stated, “Yoga teaches us to cure what cannot be endured and endure what cannot be cured”.

It’s a confident assertion.

Although, perhaps, one that those with a regular yoga practice may well agree with.

Text "Yoga teaches us to cure what cannot be endured and to endure what cannot be cured" - BKS Iyengar

The Science

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” 

Read More

News so big, it was even reported in the New York Times.

According to the report: “Regular exercise can prevent Dementia, Type 2 Diabetes, some Cancers, Depression, Heart Disease and other common serious conditions… better than many drugs.”  

It appeared, Physical activity had been grossly overlooked as both a prevention and a cure to many of the illnesses and diseases facing our modern day society. On the back of this comprehensive review, doctors were recommended to get people active!

Why Yoga?

Yoga is a great physical activity as there are so many different types, styles and levels ( Read More: 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 so, the results regarding the benefits specific to yoga are becoming less anecdotal and more and more significant to the scientific community.

Read on to see what Science is saying about Yoga!

Back Issues

Scoliosis The National Scoliosis Foundation recommends practising the yoga pose: Side Plank (under instruction and then at home at least 3 times per week), after researchers in 2014 found this could improve some spinal curvatures by up to almost 50%. Read More

While more recent studies have offered mixed results, I (as someone who has had scoliosis since childhood) can anecdotally attest that Yoga can definitely help!

Side Plank Yoga Pose

Lower Back Pain – The American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians endorse yoga as an evidence-based treatment for chronic lower back pain. In a pilot study in 2010, participants reported significantly less pain after just 4 weeks. Read More

More recently, a 2022 study delved into the cellular mechanisms underlying this effect. The findings confirm that yoga may operate through psychological and neurophysiologic pathways, ultimately leading to reduced pain severity and interference. Read the Study


An early 2007 study of breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy found that not only does Yoga ease psychological stress levels in patients, but it also helps on a cellular level with recovery from radiation damage, too. Read More

A later – (randomised, controlled & slightly more complex) – trial of the same demographic proved that Yoga did indeed improve Quality of Life and lessened the physiological changes associated with radiotherapy. More so than just simple stretching exercises, and with benefits that appeared to be long-lasting. Read More


In a review on breathing techniques – such as those practised in Yoga – as treatment for asthma, the data collectively showed the potential benefits for sufferers and the definite need for further trials. Read More

And there have been many more since then (over 125!). A recent meta-analysis in 2023 confirms the current accepted knowledge that Yoga is a useful complementary therapy for asthma. Read the Review

Heart Conditions

Hypertension – Early studies into the effect of Yoga on high blood pressure proved very promising. A more recent study, from 2018, found that Yoga – without yoga postures (ie: just the breathwork & meditation) – induced a short-term lowering of ambulatory systolic blood pressure. Moreover, the studies show that practising yoga is safe and effective if you are taking medications for arterial hypertension and so, can be recommended as an additional treatment option. Read More

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Alzheimer’s – A pilot study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016 begged for more trials after showing Yoga & Meditation had equalled and then topped the benefits of 12 weeks of Brain Training while. at the same time, making the participants happier. Read the Study or read the related New York Times Article

Parkinson’s– While more precise research is needed, a Mini Review in 2018 concluded that all studies have shown beneficial effects of yoga on the control of motor and non-motor functions. Read the Review

Caregivers – A study in 2023, incorporating stress biomarker measurements, reported improvements in mental health for caregivers, too. The greatest gains were made by those reporting higher burden and having family members with more severe dementias. The results also indicate that those experiencing the greatest improvement in caregiver burden scores spent the most time doing gentle yoga and yoga breathing exercises. Read the Study

Anxiety & Depression

One of the most significant & studied areas of research is Yoga as a treatment for anxiety & depression. There are many respected reviews available which suggest Yoga can be helpful for both, in part due to its ability to reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses. Read More

Depression – Whether used alongside other treatments or as the only therapy, Yoga shows positive effects for depression. It is particularly helpful with treatment-resistant depression, Clinical Depression, and PTSD.

Anxiety – As an additional therapy, studies have proven that Yoga facilitates treatment of anxiety disorders, particularly panic disorder. 

Read More

Overall Wellbeing

There have been thousands of studies into how Yoga can positively impact our health in various ways. These include during pregnancy, to address pain syndromes including arthritis, for autoimmune conditions and for people with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, HIV and more. Read More

So… Is Yoga Medicine?

Yes! – Modern medicine is finally catching up to the ancient wisdoms of Yoga… and now is a great time to find out how it can positively impact your life.

As with any physical activity programme, always check with your health practitioner before beginning, especially if you have any specific conditions.

And then explore, enjoy and find a practice that works for you.

Hatha Yoga is all yoga with movement. As such, it’s great for the body and mind. But you don’t have to practise asanas (yoga poses) to reap yogic rewards.
Check out  The Ultimate Guide To Yoga Relaxation by Relax Like A Boss for the hows, the whys and basically everything you need to know to beat stress with Yogic Relaxation.

Happy & Healthy Yoga-ing!

Profile photo and text: Much Love, Nette xxx

Find out more about Nette.

Adapted from a piece originally written for & published on the Things 2 Do Marbella website October 2016. Updated March 2024.

Jeannette Amy (Nette) Hopkinson (BSc Hons Sports & Life Sciences) is a compassionate, trauma-informed Yoga Teacher & educator based in Andalusia. Follow on Instagram Facebook

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