The media has represented these studies as groundbreaking research—but it turns out that they aren’t, really. Unsplash/Dmitry Kotov
There’s been a lot of noise recently over some new research that has suddenly sprung into being about yoga. Not content to be a gym class that I actively avoid, yoga can apparently “Boost your mental health,” which sounds like a fantastic deal for the cheap price of a gym membership and one of those rubber mats.
There’s just one tiny issue.
There’s no good evidence that yoga is much use for health at all.
Yoga is one of those things that has an amazing mystique surrounding it. Maybe it’s because it came from the depths of the Orient in days gone past. Perhaps the fact that instructors are often scantily-clothed gods and goddesses, who can twist and contort their body into sensual masterpieces that most of us can only dream about. It could be the almost hypnotic nature of the movements, slow and stately and yet powerful in their intensity.
Whatever the reason, we really love yoga. Almost every gym around offers a class, you can do it for free in the park with any number of groups; it’s become a virtually ubiquitous form of exercise.
Personally, I find it a bit boring, but there’s no accounting for taste.
But as you may have heard recently, yoga isn’t just a form of exercise. It’s also the cure for all your ills.
Mind Over Matter
The recent media noise has been over findings presented at the American Psychological Association conference. In a conference symposium about yoga, a number of interesting studies about yoga were introduced to the scientific community. Researchers found, across a number of studies, that yoga was significantly associated with a very broad range of positive psychological associations, as well as a number of secondary health indicators.
It all sounds really rosy: all of the studies presented at this session were positive, with yoga doing things like helping veterans improve their mental health, improve depressive symptoms, and help with anxiety.