Scientific Results of Yoga for Health and Well-Being—Full Video

By Adem Lewis / in , , , /

♪ Music ♪ Narrator: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine present the following video, “Scientific Results: Yoga for Health and Well-being”. The video features an introduction by Dr. Josephine Briggs, Director of the National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, and interviews with Dr. George Salem and Dr. Karen Sherman, researchers who are studying yoga. Following the interviews with Drs. Salem and Sherman are five brief tips for people interested in practicing yoga. The tips are accompanied by video footage of certified yoga
instructors Yasmine Kloth and John Acton performing yoga techniques in an outdoor setting. Dr. Briggs speaks from an office at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. ♪ Music ♪ Hello, I am Josie Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM. NCCAM is one of 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health, the government’s medical research agency. Our mission at NCCAM is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary
and alternative medicine interventions and their role in improving health and health care. In this video, we give you
an introduction to yoga, a mind-body practice that has its origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Yoga is increasingly being integrated into our health care system. At NCCAM we are particularly
interested in how health care providers are using yoga to improve
the health of their patients. For example, to prevent
falls in older adults, or to address persistent conditions
such as chronic low back pain. This video will introduce you to
some of the research that we are supporting to better understand
the health benefits of yoga. We will highlight two of our
researchers who are studying yoga, Dr. George Salem and
Dr. Karen Sherman. Dr. Salem is at the
University of Southern California. He is using innovative technology to examine how older people use their muscles and joints in certain yoga postures. As a researcher with a primary
interest in the science of exercise, Dr. Salem focuses on the mechanics
of the musculoskeletal system. How our bodies move. He will talk about why he chose
to study yoga and some of the challenges in studying
this mind-body practice. The second person you are going to hear from is Dr. Karen Sherman who conducts research at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. Dr. Sherman has found yoga to be beneficial for people with low-back pain. In this video, she talks about low-back pain and the challenges of designing a rigorous yoga study that will explore the promise of this intervention. I hope you enjoy this presentation
and that it piques your interest in learning more about integrative
health practices like yoga. If you are
considering practicing yoga, I encourage you to talk to
your health care provider. Ask about the physical demands of the type of yoga you are interested in and learn more about what research has been done on this practice. Regardless of the type of integrative health practice you are considering, share information
about what you do for your health with your health care providers. It will help ensure
safe and coordinated care. Thank you for your interest,
and I wish you good health. Narrator: NCCAM has provided this video for your information only. It is not intended to constitute or substitute for medical advice or for personal exercise instruction. We encourage you to discuss all questions and decisions about medical care or treatment with your health care provider before beginning any new exercise program, including the program featured in this video. Any reference to or appearance of any product, service, or therapy in this video is not intended as an express or implied endorsement by NCCAM or the Federal Government. Drs. Salem and Sherman were interviewed in their research labs in Los Angeles, California and Seattle, Washington. ♪ Music ♪ My name is George Salem. I’m an associate professor and researcher in the division of biokinesiology and physical therapy here at the University of Southern California. So, I am interested in exercise. I have been studying exercise for the past 30 years and using biomechanics force platforms, high speed cameras to understand how exercise targets the musculoskeletal system. So, our primary objective in the current study, “Yoga Empowers Seniors Study”, is to
provide information for instructors who are going to be
designing programs for seniors. However, this information is also going to be very useful for the clinician or therapist so that
they can design individualized programs for their patients. Yes, we believe yoga is good and it has its place along with other forms of exercise, but what we want to do is make sure that the programs are tailored for the senior who may be participating in yoga for the very first time. To my knowledge, nobody has
quantified the biomechanics, the forces, the muscle recruitment patterns, the joint movements or torques that are created during yoga in healthy seniors. It’s very innovative,
it’s very different. It’s, it’s creative and
that’s what makes it exciting. We recreate their poses and show
them what their skeletal system would look like. Skeletons actually performing the yoga poses–asanas– and they get to see their muscles light up and do different things. It’s very exciting
for our participants. The challenge is that I we work
within a laboratory with lights, with force plates. Our subjects have
to be instrumented. We put reflective
balls on their joints. We put wires across their muscles, they have tape and all kinds of electronics associated with them. And yet we need them to feel comfortable and so we always do our studies with a yoga instructor present. We always take them
through an actual yoga program. They are not just standing there posing but rather they are performing yoga. They have a warm up period. They have a cool down period, we incorporate breathing and concentration, meditation techniques as well. We do have some
preliminary results and what, what’s fascinating and, and neat
about the project is that many of those results were not intuitive. Poses we thought were targeting certain muscle groups actually are targeting completely different muscle groups. Poses we thought were relatively safe are actually generating rather large loads and joint torques at joints in which older adults can get into trouble. So, if I could I’d like to give you an example of a pose which we thought was going to be doing one thing but now we’ve learned it’s doing something very different. And that would or those poses
would be the warrior poses. And the warrior poses, it’s often thought that these are very important poses for increasing balance in, in individuals and in fact it
intuitively that makes sense. You’re in a position
with an extended base. Your legs are spread far apart. We call that an abducted position. And we always hypothesized that that pose would be targeting the outer muscles of the thighs the gluteus medius muscle or the abductor muscles. We found that as opposed to
targeting the abductor muscles, they were actually targeting the inner muscles of the thigh the adductor muscles. A better pose for that
might be the tree pose, for example, which we know from our biomechanical investigation does target the hip abductors. It’s likely to increase one’s balance control because those hip abductors are important for balance. One of the things we’re learning is that some of these poses are really not intuitive. This information then will ultimately be disseminated perhaps in a book or perhaps online, and instructors can then go and bring
down then take this information and design a program that is going to be safe and effective. As we analyze our current results we will be expanding our studies to include other groups of individuals, both healthy individuals and those with disabilities. As yoga participation has
increased in recent years though, we understand that this is an area
that really is under-researched, and in discussing and
working with my colleague at UCLA, Gail Greendale, we
really decided that, hey, here is an opportunity for us
to use these very unique tools, these, these very tech, high tech tools to better understand what yoga is actually doing, how it’s targeting the physiology the
biological processes of our body. ♪ Music ♪ My name is Karen Sherman, and I’m a senior scientific investigator
at Group Health Research Institute. I started researching yoga because
I actually was quite interested in complementary medicine
treatments for back pain. Back pain, as you know, is the
number one reason why people search outside of the conventional
med, medical area for some relief, and at the time that I began
my work here at Group Health, there was actually no formal studies
that had been published on yoga. No solid research out
there at that time, and I thought, wow, this is
natural kind of thing to do, so I jumped on it. So, we started our first yoga study was funded in 2005 and the first thing that we did before
we even did the clinical trial is we had to sort of design it. So, one of the things that we had to ask ourselves is what should the yoga intervention look like? And we chose to focus on postures and breathing with some of the relaxation elements explicitly added. We chose to use a style
of yoga called vini yoga. The idea of vini yoga being that
you adapt the posture to the person. So, how are you going
to design your study? What are you going to compare it to? We said there’s really two
things we’re very interested in. One is, “how does it
compare to usual care?” That is to say what
people would normally do? And we augmented our usual
care with a self-care book. And that was sort of a
basic standard of comparison. And then we were just curious, how is yoga different from sort of conventional exercise? I have to say that back pain researchers often find that nothing works so I was actually surprised that yoga did work. It was clearly superior to usual care at all time points and it was better than the exercise at a couple of time points. Not enormously better but statistically significant and intriguing. We’ve moved on to do two things. One is to try to confirm those
results in a much larger population. Secondly, to try to
understand, what’s really going on? How is yoga working? Is it simply lots of stretching and strengthening or are there other elements that are really important the relaxation kind of stress reduction sorts of things. In thinking about how this research is actually going to help the clinician and the patient, I do think research is very important for people with back pain. There are over a hundred
treatments for back pain out there, most of them have not been tested and what’s the poor clinician or what’s the poor patient to do? Caring for people with low-back pain is actually quite challenging for the conventional physician. Turns out that most people don’t
have an identifiable lesion on x-ray and so docs don’t have a really
great idea of what to give people other than drugs or maybe a referral to physical therapy and those aren’t terribly effective. So what happens is the
patient is often frustrated, and the doctor feels badly because they can’t really help the patient very well, and so it’s not a pleasant situation. I think that’s one of the values
of complementary therapies is that patients report at
least subjectively, that they’re quite helpful and that’s the value of doing this research is to really find out how helpful they are from a more objective perspective. It’s very interesting that we actually have found people do continue to practice their yoga. In fact at the very last inter,
interview which is about 3 months after the classes are over, about two-thirds of the people in both of our studies reported that they had practiced yoga in the prior week so that’s a very nice confirmation that for many people it’s quite accessible. It’s very interesting that people
want to know what the magic pose is, but it turns out that a sequence of
poses is actually quite important in the vini yoga tradition. And also the poses that can be most helpful might differ from person to person. For example if somebody
needs to learn to relax, the wheel pose and associated very gentle relaxing poses would be extremely important. If a person is weak in some area, they’ll need to have some more strengthening kinds of poses, for example. The ones that strengthen the hip muscles so it just depends on the individual. Our posture sequence was designed to provide all of that so people could get an idea what would be helpful for them. ♪ Music ♪ Narrator: Five tips for people who are interested in practicing yoga Yasmine Kloth and John Acton demonstrate various yoga techniques at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. Millions of people in the U.S. practice yoga. Scientists are studying how yoga may be used to help improve health and to learn more about its safe use.
 Yoga and other mind and body therapies are being integrated into conventional health care settings. Interest in these practices often is based on results from research that has been conducted over the past decade. ♪ Music ♪ Recent studies in people with chronic low-back pain suggest that a carefully adapted set of yoga poses can help reduce pain and improve function. Other studies also suggest that practicing yoga (as well as other forms of regular exercise) might have other health benefits such as reducing heart rate
and blood pressure, and may also help relieve
anxiety and depression. ♪ Music ♪ Studies show that some other health conditions may not benefit from yoga. For example, research suggests
that yoga is not helpful for asthma, and studies looking at yoga and
arthritis have had mixed results. ♪ Music ♪ Yoga is generally considered to be safe in healthy people when practiced appropriately. However, people with
high blood pressure, glaucoma, or sciatica, and women who are pregnant should modify or avoid some yoga poses. ♪ Music ♪ Everyone’s body is different, and
yoga postures should be modified based on individual abilities. Carefully selecting an instructor who is experienced and is attentive to your needs is an important step toward helping you practice yoga safely. Inform your instructor about
any medical issues you have, and ask about the
physical demands of yoga. ♪ Music ♪ If you’re thinking
about practicing yoga, also be sure to talk to
your health care providers. Give them a full picture of
what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure
coordinated and safe care. ♪ Music ♪ To learn more about complementary health practices, visit You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. ♪ Music ♪ NCCAM thanks the following people for their participation in this video: George Salem, PhD., and his team at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles Karen Sherman, PhD., M.P.H., and her team at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle John Acton, R.N., RYT, Certified Yoga for Seniors Instructor Yasmine Kloth, M.S., Certified Yoga Instructor Special thanks to Brookside Gardens and the Department of Parks of the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission

20 thoughts on “Scientific Results of Yoga for Health and Well-Being—Full Video

  1. I think that this is an awesome service the NIH provides to the public. This was an amazing study. I appreciate the intense scientific research that was done in order to prove the effectiveness of yoga. I also wanted to say that I love the NCCAM section of the NIH.

    Thanks for putting this out there for all of us…

  2. How am I supposed to take anything the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says seriously when we know that there is no such thing as alternative medicine? There are compounds that work, and there are compounds that don't work. Compounds that work that work we call medicine, and compounds that don't work we call snake oil.

  3. yoga is for relaxation and connection with the divine so what the hell is that stupid bitxh doing acting as if shes in the fuxking military so annoying!

  4. Interesting that they noted little results for asthma which is why I do yoga. Personally I have had excellent results controlling my asthma using yoga. I wonder what poses and yoga methods they were using to arrive at those results?

  5. THANK YOU! I appreciate the Yoga educational science toward understanding. To examine each pose and define the truth. As a Lumbar Fascia Practitioner, I would like the bio-science of YOGA fascia movement, release, to be studied and documented. Dr. Robert Schleip, a leading Fascia Researcher/Rolfer, has done some bio-science research at ULM University utilizing special Ultrasound lab to record his findings. Equally as important, is Lx Fascia based Bio-mechanics found at @SelfDecompress #SelfDecompress . The Mind & Body CAM is the only way to abolish cLBP 24/7.
    Look forward to more fantastic findings from you.

  6. Классное видео! мне понравилось, молодец!) Вообще уважаю труд тех кто делает видео, и ведет свои каналы. Я сама веду канал и знаю, как это непросто – записывать ролики.
    Не останавливайся, продолжай!

  7. Ok, I give up…I've browsed so many times in search for a video that….you know..has fancy effects with colours and zoomed yoga pants and some buddha statue…you know, the good side of the new age bullshit….and simultaneously be thoroughly informed of how yoga effects your physical body through the cultivation of kundalini and which chakra does what(to what organ etc. etc)….but surprisingly, in 2015. you can only find some shirtless hippies with dijeridoos and…surfing n shit…or these old geeks….so I reluctantly chose the old geeks…I guess I have to say – good video:D

  8. I came to this video after watching a lot of videos on how Yoga is evil! 😀 😛 Some even gave wikipedia reference. Lol

  9. As with all experimental designs, uncontrolled variables could account for misleading results. I am a very scientifically oriented person and educated as an undergrad graduating with my biology/neurobiology degree soon. But on the other hand, I have a carefree side that understands that yoga is largely a creative, personal, and spiritual practice–even more so than it is just a series of movements that exert certain forces on the joints and skeletomuscular system. In this way, it is important to control the environment of study as well, which from the video it seems you have not. Most people do not practice yoga in a fluorescently lit, carpeted, room with a personal instructor adjusting their movements, or 5 inches away from their yoga instructor as in the beginning of this video. Instead people usually practice yoga in a dimly-lit yoga studio, with relaxing music, surrounded by the "energy" of people around them. The instructor will not only instruct breathing rituals, but encourage relaxation by asking their students to try to immerse themselves into the practice by connecting with themselves and letting go of the tension they might feel from their surroundings. They will also usually give students a variety of options to personalize movements that they feel the most comfortable with. In this way I think studying yoga should be approached by its effects on the mind just as much as it should be approached by its purely physical effects.  I hypothesize that a majority of the positive effects of yoga are due to its effects on the hormonal and neurotransmitter system. In other words, it is due to being able to truly relax by subduing the catastrophic effect of stress on the body. This in conjunction with the flow of exercise movements may be able to heal a damaged body.

  10. For what it's worth, I can say as someone who has suffered from major depression & anxiety for twenty years, daily yoga practice has absolutely change my life. My doctor has withdrawn me from antidepressant medications and I now live a normal life. The effort required is constant, and requires dietary modifications as well, but the benefits have far exceeded pharmacotherapy in my case. Your mileage may vary, but if you suffer from depression or anxiety a regular yoga practice is definitely worth trying.

  11. No mention of chiropractic for low back pain? My experience has been that there is a synergistic effect when chiropractic and yoga are both employed. Yoga is marginally effective in removing fixations. But it provides the needed core muscle strengthening that is recommended by most doctors of chiropractic, and other health care professionals. When fixations exist, progress from yoga pactice is limited or hindered.

  12. If you just did a warrior pose, you would realize that it's targeting your inner thigh muscles! lol It isn't one of the balance asanas!

  13. Almost exactly one year ago today I was referred by my GP for Spinal Fusion surgery for serious bulges and herniation at L4/5. I decided i needed to investigate alternatives to losing a useful part of my body. To cut a long story short, my chiro diagnosed leg length discrepancy, a radically unstable pelvis, a displaced rib cage and one shoulder 3cms below the other. In short i was a crock and heading downhill real fast. As well as helping through small corrections, my chiro handed me voucher for yoga, looked me in the eye and said "do it". One year later I'm pain free. My body is almost nearly straight. I have gone back to sports that I thought i had "lost" – endurance cycling etc. I go to Yoga 3-4 times a week. I find peace. But I also find a way of building the core strength and stability you need to fight back against structural imbalances. My chiro was right, and i was blessed to find him "Do it" – Namaste.

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