A lot of people talk about Yoga as some kind of mystical cure all- but what does science have to say about that? Below are a few of the benefits that scientific research supports Yoga can offer. But as always- there is still a lot scientists don’t understand.


Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is involved in the development of Cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease, just to name a few.  Oxidative stress is caused as a by product of the way our cells use Oxygen to produce energy. One of the main ways oxidative stress manifests itself is in the production of free radicals, which cause damage to cells. Disease, environmental toxins, stress, smoking, drinking alcohol, eating processed foods, and exposure to sunlight, all can increase oxidative stress. It is believed to be one of the primary causes of aging. Several studies(Here is a one and another) have shown that practicing Yoga can significantly reduce oxidative stress in the body.


Low Back Pain

Many studies show that yoga is effective for low back pain, an extremely common ailment these days. For some people, low back pain will go away on it’s own in a couple weeks. However, for many people the pain becomes chronic and debilitating. It’s these people most studies look at. According to the National Institute of Health,targeted Yoga practice has been found to decrease disability, pain and depression caused by chronic low back pain more than conventional medical care, conventional stretching, and self-help books.

Genetic Changes

One recent study showed that Yoga can change gene expression. This is the first study to show the effects of Yoga on the genetics of individual cells. In the study, 97 unique genes were effected by yoga, versus 24 for the control program of nature walks and listening to relaxing music. Effects began within two hours of the start of the practice.  The study looked at peripheral blood mononucleated cells, such as lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrofages, all cells important to the immune system. Exactly how these cellular genetic changes effect the whole of your body is not totally clear. It may account for many of the claimed, yet unexplained benefits of Yoga. So when an instructor tells you to feel it all the way down in your cells in savasana- you probably did actually changing the way they function.


Until next week, namaste Boulder!

Jake Kincaid