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Yoga is a key part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It involves controlled breathing, meditation exercises, and physical body movements or postures.

The purpose of yoga is to achieve self-realization or enlightenment. Like other forms of exercise and meditation, yoga appears to have many potentially beneficial effects. It can affect blood pressure, blood sugar levels, stress levels, and anxiety, and can affect brain chemicals related to mood.

People commonly use yoga to improve general health, fitness, and quality of life. It is also used for stress, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, pain, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these other uses.

Don't confuse yoga with Ayurveda. Yoga is only one part of the Ayurvedic system of medicine.

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
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  • Asthma.  Yoga appears to slightly improve symptoms and quality of life in patients with asthma. The effectiveness of yogic breathing exercises (pranayama) specifically is less clear.
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  • Back pain.  Yoga seems to alleviate pain in some patients with chronic low back pain.
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  • Breast cancer.  Yoga seems to be beneficial in patients with breast cancer, with effects comparable to other exercise regimens.
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  • Cancer-related fatigue.  Yoga seems to be beneficial in patients with cancer-related fatigue.
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  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD).  Yoga, alone or in combination with other lifestyle changes, appears to improve risk factors for CVD. However, evidence in patients with established coronary artery disease (CAD) is mixed.
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  • Depression.  Short-term practice of yoga seems to be beneficial in previously untreated patients with mild or new-onset depression. Yoga also seems to be beneficial as an adjunct to conventional therapy.
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  • Diabetes.  Yoga seems to modestly improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
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  • Hypertension.  Yoga seems to modestly reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
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  • Menopausal symptoms.  Yoga seems to help alleviate menopausal symptoms, with beneficial effects comparable to other exercise interventions.
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  • Neck pain.  Yoga seems to alleviate neck pain and disability due to neck pain.
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  • Stress.  Yoga seems to reduce stress, with beneficial effects comparable to relaxation therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
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  • Tuberculosis.  When combined with anti-tuberculosis therapy, yoga seems to improve symptoms, weight, and some measures of lung function.
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Yoga is likely safe for most people when used appropriately. Like other forms of exercise, yoga might cause soreness in some people. Some aggressive forms of yoga exercises might be unsafe, especially for beginners and when practiced without a licensed teacher. In rare cases, hot yoga might cause heat stroke.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Yoga is possibly safe when used during pregnancy and breast-feeding. It doesn't seem to harm the baby when practiced during pregnancy. But some aggressive forms and poses might not be safe during pregnancy.

Children: Yoga is possibly safe when used appropriately by children under the supervision of a yoga teacher.

Abdominal surgery: Some aggressive breathing techniques, such as "Kapalabhati pranayama," might place too much pressure on the stomach area and harm people who have recently had abdominal surgery.

High blood pressure: Some aggressive breathing techniques, such as "Kapalabhati pranayama," might temporarily increase blood pressure and harm people with uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Eye lens implant: Sometimes a lens implant can move and cause rubbing and pain in the eye. Some positions in yoga might make this movement worse.

It is not known if this treatment interacts with any medicines. Before using this treatment, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

There are no known interactions with foods.

There are eight limbs of yoga: pranayama (breathing), asana (physical postures), yama (moral behavior), niyama (healthy habit), dharana (concentration), prathyahara (sensory withdrawal), dhyana (contemplation), and samadhi (higher consciousness). Yoga is often learned through classes or self-study.

There are many different styles of yoga, including Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, Iyengar, and Kundalini. Most involve controlled breathing, meditation, and body posturing. Some forms are more physically demanding than others. There is no standardized certification for yoga teachers. Many schools and teachers register with the Yoga Alliance. Registered teachers typically indicate the level of training they've received with RYT 200 (200 hours) or RYT 500 (500 hours).

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Information on this website is for informational use only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. While evidence-based, it is not guaranteed to be error-free and is not intended to meet any particular user’s needs or requirements or to cover all possible uses, safety concerns, interactions, outcomes, or adverse effects. Always check with your doctor or other medical professional before making healthcare decisions (including taking any medication) and do not delay or disregard seeking medical advice or treatment based on any information displayed on this website.

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