The scientific basis for utilizing a therapeutic yoga model in lifestyle medicine is now well supported thanks to research in the field of neuroscience. In the last few years, research has documented the efficacy of yoga for conditions such as heart disease, cancer, sleep disorders, upper respiratory disease, brain function, immune function, back pain, mood disorders and stress reduction. Some of the leading research in the United States is coming from The Osher Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and The University of Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the most well known success is Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which relied heavily on yoga as a therapeutic modality in the 1990s.
The asana (yoga postures) play an important role as well, since expansion of the rib cage during backbends and forward bends enhances the depth of breath — further strengthening core diaphragmatic muscles and enhancing baroreceptor sensitivity (Strongoli, Gomez, and Coast, 2010).
More generally, it has been shown that RELAXATION INTERVENTIONS integrated into community, educational, and hospital settings have far-reaching benefits, making them an easily accessible non-pharmacological approach for a variety of populations and clinical conditions (Klainin-Yobas, Susanne Yew, and Lau, 2015).