On International Yoga Day – 164 Ways Yoga Is Proven To Work

It’s International Yoga Day today – 21 June. Inspired by Narendra Modi, and organised by the Indian government in association with the United Nations, the day aims to raise awareness of the many benefits of practicing yoga. This year’s theme is yoga for health.


I wanted to share with you, on this special day, the clinical studies that prove yoga does indeed benefit health – both mentally and physically.

My own first hand experience is of yoga for depression. I worked in advertising for over twenty years and at the end of it I was diagnosed as clinically depressed. The only thing that was working for me was yoga, so I took a career break and straightened myself out with six months in the yoga schools of India. I came home clinically happy – able to live more in the present and to deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life with the kind of resilience normally reserved for the so-called ordinary Indians I’d met along the way.

This direct experience of the power of yoga and meditation got me interested in the science. Initially using Google Scholar, and then PubMed, I started investigating the clinical studies.

The growth in clinical studies 

There has been a huge growth in clinical studies; from the first mention of yoga in a scientific journal in 1948 (the year both the NHS and WHO were founded), to over 200 in the most recent year for which we have data. I began classifying these studies by health condition, finding over 20 studies each on yoga for depression, and yoga for anxiety. 

To quote three of the clinical studies on depression

“A 2009 review of yoga in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders concluded: In depressive disorders, yoga may be comparable to medication and the combination superior to medication alone.” Asian Journal of Psychiatry, volume 2, issue 1.”

“A 2004 study on Yoga Intervention For Young Adults With Elevated Symptoms Of Depression concluded ‘Subjects who participated in the yoga course demonstrated significant decreases in self-reported symptoms of depression and trait anxiety.” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, volume 10, issue

“A meta-analysis of yoga for prenatal depression reviewed six randomized control trials, consisting of 375 pregnant women. When compared with comparison groups (e.g., standard prenatal care, standard antenatal exercises, social support, etc.), the level of depression statistically significantly reduced in yoga groups.” Yoga for prenatal depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry Volume 15: Issue 14 2015

Clinical studies say yoga works for over 30 health conditions

Although I expected to find studies on depression, stress and anxiety, the breadth of conditions yoga helps amazed me. The 300 clinical studies I collated spanned yoga for over 30 health conditions – including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, PTSD and epilepsy.

Clinical studies say yoga works in 164 ways

The other surprising thing was the number of ways in which yoga works. My analysis of those 300 clinical studies shows that yoga works in 164 ways – both mental and physical. From modulating DNA damage in radiotherapy, to improving the handgrip of arthritis sufferers. From improving sleep quality to reducing perceptions of pain.

So next time you see someone suffering with a health condition – serious or not – you have 164 reasons to suggest they give yoga a try.

#InternationalYogaDay #YogaDay 

To view the library of clinical studies click here: http://www.yogaclicks.com/YogaMeds