Study: Does Yoga Work?

Yoga has become increasingly popular - but does it really work?

Since I’m on a week-long yoga retreat at the Kalani center in Hawaii, I thought it’d make sense to talk a bit about yoga – and whether or not it works.

In the last few decades, yoga has become increasingly popular. And though many people, myself included, could point to personal or anecdotal evidence about its effectiveness, this several thousand-year-old tradition hasn’t been extensively researched.

Sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, and led by Dawn Boehde and John Porcari, Ph.D., researchers at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, set to change that. For their study, researchers divided sedentary women into two groups and subjected each individual to a battery of fitness tests. The first group continued their inactive lifestyle for the duration of the 8-week study; the second group participated in three 55-minute yoga classes each week for two months.

After the full 8 weeks, each group was again tested. Not surprisingly, fitness measures didn’t improve for the inactive group. But for the yoga group, marked improvements were discovered in flexibility, strength, endurance and balance.

Flexibility increased from 13 – 35% for the yoga group. Strength and endurance likewise increased, especially in the core and chest; participants were able to perform 6 more push-ups and 14 more curl-ups at the end of the study. With an average one-legged stand time increase of 17-seconds, the yoga group saw improvements to balance as well. As many yoga classes aren’t cardio intensive, participants didn’t experience improvements to their aerobic abilities.

Bottom line: For the average person, yoga is a great form of exercise that can yield tremendous benefits; yoga does, in fact, work – and it can be an essential and rewarding part of your workout program. It’s also worth noting that the study lasted only 8 weeks. While the gains illustrated in this study are tremendous, imagine the changes you’d experience in a year or more.

If you’d like to learn more about yoga, or if you’re interested in giving it a try, download Davey Wavey’s Underwear Yoga program. Through the two workout videos and accompanying materials, you can start reaping the benefits of yoga without even leaving your home. Namaste ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. well the study was made with women only, and I believe men’s bopdy would give different results. Alsi I wonder if yoga would work with men who already are working out in the gym for the 3 or 6 month. IMHO – and I wrote those lines under a commom sense – yoga may be nice fot those who are seeking flexibility [as the text above reverbs] in aerobics [maybe to lose weight] or martial fights [to get a better flexibility for movements], but for those who are seeking to increase muscle mass and strenght, yoga may be not necessaire. But it’s MY oppinion, I know I may be wrong – if I am, please correct me nicely – there’s no room for bitchness but for knowledge and enlighment ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The whole concept of does it work and measurable results is so western left-brain and unyoga.

  3. It’s amazing how much change they experienced since it was only 8 weeks; I’d love to hear the results after 8 month since it takes me several weeks just to get use to a new exercise and to be sure I’m doing it right! Great article Davey!

  4. yoga totally works for both the mind and body.

    however, it’s one of those things – you get out what you put into it. i.e. by making various adjustments, you make it easier or harder from a strength, balance, breathing, flexibility, etc. standpoint.

    i use yoga in my exercise regimen for all of the mind and body benefits including: cardio, flexibility, strength, stress reduction, ab work, etc.

  5. christopher says:

    after reading below the benefits done in the focus groups you can conclude that yes yoga works-but remember there are there are other ways to go as well.

  6. I have been practicing yoga for slightly more than a year now; Ashtanga and Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga helps me lose weight (I managed to go from 247 pounds to 154 pounds in nine months) while Ashtanga improves my flexibility and concentration. However, I believe there are still other benefits as well which I really cannot tell one by one. I also practice Pilates, thus it sort of makes a yogilates :p

  7. an addition point: after workout/muscle training do some yoga.. it was a great way to relieve tension muscle…

    as well as a balancing position will increasing your attention to your body position. it also help you aware of your body position when you doing your muscle building so you don’t injure yourself.

    for me yoga is a great way to relieve stress from work. some people finding muscle training as stress releasing method but on my opinion it was more toward frustration releasing due to the stress. some may find this method more stressful after work out but why don’t give it another approach such as yoga.

    in yoga, it more gentle way to releasing the stress, the screech in yoga smooth your tissue, body out in total relaxing at the end and you will feel a burden lift off.

  8. Hey, I thought this was a great blog. Thank you for posting.