Pseudoscience & Religion

No, Yoga Does Not Cure Any Disease

If a lie is repeated often, it is said, people will eventually believe it. It is also said that people with simple thinking more readily believe bigger lies. Small lies, interspersed here and there, in speeches, lectures, sermons, media bytes, news reports, columns, research papers, can coalesce into a big lie. If the state and the media keep suppressing the truth, that big lie then perpetuates and stays. This is precisely the case with modern day yoga. Lies, small ones here and there, crafted carefully and sprinkled gently, have now grown into such a big lie that any one hardly questions it.

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How ironical indeed! The very first limb or step of Ashtanga Yoga, codified in the much trumpeted Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is Yama (vows). Satya or truthfulness is the second of the five vows. But that TRUTH is the biggest casualty in the modern fanfare around yoga.

These statements are from two articles published in the Journal of Association of Physicians of India:

  • The science of yoga is an ancient one. It is a rich heritage of our culture. Several older books make a mention of the usefulness of yoga in the treatment of certain diseases and preservation of health in normal individuals. …Apart from its spiritual philosophy, yoga has been utilized as a therapeutic tool to achieve positive health…[Sahay BK, 2000]
  • Yoga has been applied in the field of therapeutics in modern times. Yoga has given the patient hope to reduce medication and slow the progress of disease.[Singh S, 2004]

No references have been cited in the articles for these statements.

But the facts are to the contrary:

  • The oldest and greatest contribution to the world from India – it is not.
  • The greatest contribution from Hinduism – it is not.
  • Way of life – it is not.
  • Has helped Indians with health and vitality for millennia – no
  • Helps to treat and cure all ailments, even the ones that cannot be cured by modern medicine – not at all.

I had written in January 2009 [Do We Need Yoga] about the available evidence for the efficacy of yoga in treating human diseases. On the occasion of International Yoga Day, let’s revisit the same and look at fresh evidence, if any.

All the available evidence as of now, and the systematic reviews and meta-analyses, indicate clearly that YOGA DOES NOT CURE or PREVENT, or significantly alleviate, ANY ailment, that affects humans. Read EVERY SECTION BELOW, CAREFULLY, BETWEEN THE LINES. It will be clear that even the most sympathetic voices for yoga DO NOT endorse it as a stand-alone treatment for any human illness.

The Origins of the Great Lie:

Yoga was never a part of Indian systems of medicine. Indian medical texts such as Charaka Samhita or Ashtanga Hrudaya do not mention yoga as a method of prevention or treatment of any disease.

The credit for entwining the so called yoga with health and fitness must go to Manibhai Haribhai Desai, also known as Shri Yogendra (1897-1989), and Jagannath Ganesh Gune, also known as Swami Kuvalayananda (1883-1966). Both these were students of Paramahamsa Shree Madhavadasji Maharaj of Malsar, Gujarat. While Shri Yogendra established the Yoga Institute at Santa Cruz, Bombay in 1918, Kuvalayananda founded the Kaivalyadhama at Lonavla in 1924. Both these centres initiated the studies on yoga and health, and since then, many other institutions, in India and abroad, have conducted thousands of such studies, many of them small, and some randomised and controlled. Since 1935 the Kaivalyadhama has published most of its research in its own publication, the Yoga-Mimamsa journal. Several other journals, mainly those devoted to complimentary and alternative medicine, and a few mainstream medical journals, have also published papers on studies related to yoga. Now a PubMed search for yoga returns more than 3000 citations.

Yet, after 100 years of studies that churned out more than 3000 papers, the proponents of ‘yoga therapy have failed to find any conclusive evidence for the efficacy of yoga in treating any illness. They have not even been successful in standardizing the so called yoga therapy.

According to Verrastro [Verrastro G, 2014], although yoga has been deemed effective for treating conditions from hypertension to epilepsy, many claims are poorly substantiated. Most of these studies are small, short, uncontrolled, non-blinded, with many methodological flaws and high risk of bias. And in most of the studies, details of adverse events and injuries are also not mentioned. Moreover, yoga practices used in the interventions vary markedly, making comparison of results difficult. Interventions have ranged from a single 1-hour session to weekly sessions over several months to inpatient treatment that included many lifestyle modifications. Some studies required subjects to practice physically demanding asanas, while others focused on pranayama or practices similar to guided relaxation.[Verrastro G, 2014]

A bibliometric analysis of the characteristics of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of yoga [Cramer H et al, BMC CAM, 2014] included a total of 366 papers published over forty years, between 1975 and 2014, reporting 312 RCTs from 23 different countries with 22,548 participants. The analysis found that most trials were relatively small in size and failed to explore even common medical conditions frequently. More than 40 different yoga styles were used in the analyzed RCTs; whilst most trials included yoga postures and breathing, yoga meditation and philosophy were less often used (that means, not much of “yoga”). The median study sample size was 59 (range 8–410). Two hundred sixty-four RCTs (84.6%) were conducted with adults, 105 (33.7%) with older adults and 31 (9.9%) with children. Eighty-four RCTs (26.9%) were conducted with healthy participants. Other trials enrolled patients with one of 63 varied medical conditions; the most common being breast cancer (17 RCTs, 5.4%), depression (14 RCTs, 4.5%), asthma (14 RCTs, 4.5%) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (13 RCTs, 4.2%). Whilst 119 RCTs (38.1%) did not define the style of yoga used, 35 RCTs (11.2%) used Hatha yoga and 30 RCTs (9.6%) yoga breathing. The remaining 128 RCTs (41.0%) used 46 varied yoga styles, with a median intervention length of 9 weeks (range 1 day to 1 year). Two hundred and forty-four RCTs (78.2%) used yoga postures, 232 RCTs (74.4%) used breath control, 153 RCTs (49.0%) used meditation and 32 RCTs (10.3%) used philosophy lectures. One hundred and seventy-four RCTs (55.6%) compared yoga with no specific treatment; 21 varied control interventions were used in the remaining RCTs. The authors of this analysis concluded that the available research evidence is sparse for most conditions, and more research is clearly needed. Besides primary research, up-to-date systematic reviews and meta-analyses are needed at least for the most commonly studied conditions in order to evaluate the level of evidence and strength of recommendation for or against the use of yoga in each condition.[Cramer H et al, BMC CAM, 2014]

Some systematic reviews and meta analysis, including the Cochrane reviews, of the studies on yoga are also now available. But none of them provide any conclusive evidence for the efficacy of yoga in the treatment of any human illness, mental or physical.

A systematic review of published research on meditation, done by the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center, requested and funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and published in June 2007, found the body of evidence to be inadequate to arrive at any conclusions. [Ospina MB, 2007] The review identified five broad categories of meditation practices (Mantra meditation, Mindfulness meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, and QiGong). Characterization of the universal or supplemental components of meditation practices was precluded by the theoretical and terminological heterogeneity among practices. Evidence on the state of research in meditation practices was provided in 813 predominantly poor-quality studies. The three most studied conditions were hypertension, other cardiovascular diseases, and substance abuse. The review concluded that many uncertainties surround the practice of meditation, scientific research on meditation practices does not appear to have a common theoretical perspective and is characterized by poor methodological quality and, therefore firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence. The review suggested that future research on meditation practices must be more rigorous in the design and execution of studies and in the analysis and reporting of results. [Ospina MB, 2007]

Another review, published in 2013, titled Yoga as a Therapeutic Intervention for Adults with Acute and Chronic Health Conditions [McCall MC, 2013], identified 2202 titles, of which 41 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility and 26 systematic reviews satisfied inclusion criteria. Thirteen systematic reviews included quantitative data and six papers included meta-analysis. Sixteen different types of health conditions were included. Eleven reviews showed tendency towards positive effects of yoga intervention, 15 reviews reported unclear results, and no reviews reported adverse effects of yoga. The authors concluded that although yoga appeared most effective for reducing symptoms in anxiety, depression, and pain, the quality of supporting evidence was low and that significant heterogeneity and variability in reporting interventions by type of yoga, settings, and population characteristics limited the generalizability of results.[McCall MC, 2013]

Another review by Verrastro also found inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence for yoga as treatment for chronic back pain, depression, and anxiety.[Verrastro G, 2014]

Yet another review by Büssing A et al(2012) concluded thus: collectively, the available reviews suggest a number of areas where yoga may well be beneficial, but more research is required for virtually all of them to firmly establish such benefits; the heterogeneity among interventions and conditions studied has hampered the use of meta-analysis as an appropriate tool for summarizing the current literature; although there are some meta-analyses which indicate beneficial effects of yoga interventions, and there are several randomized clinical trials (RCT’s) of relatively high quality indicating beneficial effects of yoga for pain-associated disability and mental health….yoga cannot yet be a proven stand-alone, curative treatment; larger-scale and more rigorous research with higher methodological quality and adequate control interventions is highly encouraged. [Büssing A et al, 2012]

Now let us turn to individual diseases and conditions:

It is repeatedly and loudly being claimed that the so called yoga offers excellent solutions for all the modern, life style related diseases. But where is the evidence?

Cardiovascular Disease:

A systematic review of 37 RCTs and meta-analysis of 32 studies on the effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome [Chu P, 2014] concluded that there is promising evidence of yoga on improving cardio-metabolic health, but that the findings are limited by small trial sample sizes, heterogeneity, and moderate quality of RCTs. The review also found no significant difference between yoga and exercise.[Chu P, 2014]

A Cochrane review of studies on yoga for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease [Hartley L, 2014] identified 11 trials (800 participants) and two ongoing studies, with different styles and duration of yoga. Most of studies were at risk of performance bias, with inadequate details reported in many of them to judge the risk of selection bias. No study reported cardiovascular mortality, all-cause mortality or non-fatal events, and most studies were small and short-term. Adverse events, occurrence of type 2 diabetes and costs were not reported in any of the included studies. There was substantial heterogeneity between studies making it impossible to combine studies statistically for systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol. Quality of life was measured in three trials but the results were inconclusive. The authors concluded that there is some evidence that yoga has favourable effects on diastolic blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and uncertain effects on LDL cholesterol, but this limited evidence comes from small, short-term, low-quality studies and these results should be considered as exploratory and interpreted with caution. [Hartley L, 2014]

Another Cochrane review of yoga for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease [Kwong JSW, 2015] found no eligible RCTs that met the inclusion criteria of the review and thus the authors were unable to perform a meta-analysis. The authors concluded that the effectiveness of yoga for secondary prevention in CHD remains uncertain and that large RCTs of high quality are needed. [Kwong JSW, 2015]

A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of yoga on cardiovascular disease risk factors [Cramer H, Int J Cardiol. 2014] included 44 RCTs with a total of 3168 participants. It found the risk of bias to be high or unclear for most RCTs. The authors concluded that the meta-analysis revealed evidence for clinically important effects of yoga on most biological cardiovascular disease risk factors and recommended that yoga can be considered as an ancillary intervention for the general population and for patients with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, despite methodological drawbacks of the included studies.

Hypertension:

A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of yoga for hypertension [Hagins M, 2013] included 17 studies, all of which had unclear or high risk of bias. Yoga had a modest but significant effect on systolic blood pressure(SBP) (-4.17 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure(DBP) (-3.62 mmHg) (That’s right, yoga reduces SBP by 4mmHg and DBP by 3.6mm Hg and that is significant!). Subgroup analyses demonstrated significant reductions in blood pressure for interventions incorporating 3 basic elements of yoga practice (postures, meditation, and breathing) (SBP: -8.17 mmHg; DBP: -6.14 mmHg) but not for more limited yoga interventions; and for yoga compared to no treatment (SBP: -7.96 mmHg) but not for exercise or other types of treatment. The authors concluded that yoga can be preliminarily recommended as an effective intervention for reducing blood pressure, but additional rigorous controlled trials are warranted to further investigate the potential benefits of yoga. [Hagins M, 2013]

Another systematic review of yoga for essential hypertension included 6 studies involving 386 patients. The authors concluded that there is some encouraging evidence of yoga for lowering SBP and DBP, however, due to low methodological quality of these identified trials, a definite conclusion about the efficacy and safety of yoga on essential hypertension cannot be drawn from this review, and therefore, further thorough investigation, large-scale, proper study designed, randomized trials of yoga for hypertension will be required to justify the reported effects.[Wang J, 2013]

Yet another systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for hypertension included seven RCTs with a total of 452 patients. Compared with usual care, very low-quality evidence was found for effects of yoga on systolic (6 RCTs, n = 278; mean difference (MD) = -9.65 mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (6 RCTs, n = 278; MD = -7.22 mm Hg). Subgroup analyses revealed effects for RCTs that included hypertensive patients but not for RCTs that included both hypertensive and prehypertensive patients, as well as for RCTs that allowed antihypertensive comedication but not for those that did not. More adverse events occurred during yoga than during usual care. Compared with exercise, no evidence was found for effects of yoga on systolic or diastolic blood pressure. The authors concluded that larger studies are required to confirm the emerging but low-quality evidence that yoga may be a useful adjunct intervention in the management of hypertension.[ Cramer H, Am J Hypertens. 2014]

Heart Failure:

A meta-analysis on the effects of yoga in patients with chronic heart failure included two studies, (total: 30 yoga and 29 control patients) and concluded that larger RCTs are required to further investigate the effects of yoga in patients with CHF.[Gomes-Neto M, 2014]

Heart rate variability:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs on yoga for heart rate variability included 14 trials of which only two were of acceptable methodological quality. Ten RCTs reported favourable effects of yoga on various domains of HRV, whereas nine of them failed to do so. One RCT did not report between-group comparisons. The meta-analysis of two trials did not show favourable effects of yoga compared to usual care and provided no convincing evidence for the effectiveness of yoga in modulating HRV in patients or healthy subjects.[Posadzki P, 2015]

Stroke:

A Review of yoga as an ancillary treatment for neurological and psychiatric disorders included 7 RCTs of yoga in patients with neurological disorders and 13 RCTs of yoga in patients with psychiatric disorders. The authors concluded that although the results are encouraging, additional RCTs are needed to critically define the benefits of yoga for both neurological and psychiatric disorders.[Meyer HB, 2012]

Another systematic review of yoga in stroke rehabilitation included 5 RCTs and concluded that modifications to different yoga practices make comparison between studies difficult, a lack of controlled studies precludes any firm conclusions on efficacy and recommended further research to evaluate these specific practices and their suitability in stroke rehabilitation.[Lazaridou A, 2013]

Two other reviews also concluded that there were flaws and inadequacies in the study designs, making it impossible to draw any conclusions, and recommended further research to validate the effects of yoga.[Lynton H, 2007; Mishra SK, 2012]

Diabetes Mellitus:

A systematic review of yoga practice for the management of type II diabetes mellitus in adults [Aljasir B, 2010] included five trials with a total of 362 patients. The mean number of participants was 72 (range 21 to 154). Overall trial quality was poor; two trials were graded B (moderate risk of bias) and three studies were graded C (high risk of bias). The authors concluded that no definitive recommendations could be made for physicians to encourage their patients to practice yoga. The important recommendation that was drawn from the review was the need for well-designed large randomised clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of yoga on type II diabetes.[Aljasir B, 2010]

A clinical review of complementary and alternative medicine therapies for diabetes [Birdee GS, 2010] concluded that the exercise intensity of yoga and tai chi has been categorized as low- to moderate-intensity; in controlled clinical trials, neither yoga nor tai chi has consistently demonstrated significant long-term improvements in glycemic control or A1C and overall, the quality of published research for mind-body interventions for patients with diabetes is poor, and more rigorous study is necessary.[Birdee GS, 2010]

Obesity:

Although Yoga is being promoted as a very useful tool against obesity, hardly any studies support this claim. There are also no systematic reviews or meta-analysis available. [Cramer H et al, BMC CAM, 2014] A review of yoga in the management of overweight and obesity admits that in contrast to data on comorbid conditions, data are more limited with regard to weight reduction and maintenance. Authors of this review write that studies on yoga and weight loss are challenged by small sample sizes, short durations, and lack of control groups, and that there is little consistency in terms of duration of formal group yoga practice sessions, duration of informal practices at home, and frequency of both. Yet, the same authors go on to assert that yoga appears promising as a way to assist with behavioral change, weight loss, and maintenance![ Bernstein AM, 2014]

Cancers:

Many studies have been done on the usefulness of yoga in the management of patients with cancers.

A meta-analysis aimed to determine the effects of yoga on psychological health, quality of life, and physical health of patients with cancer [Lin KY, 2011] included 10 studies and concluded that due to the mixed and low to fair quality and small number of studies conducted, the findings are preliminary and limited and should be confirmed through higher-quality, randomized controlled trials.

A Cochrane review on yoga in addition to standard care for patients with haematological malignancies included a single trial with 39 participants and concluded that there are not enough data to say how effective yoga is in the management of haematological malignancies, and therefore, the role of yoga for haematological malignancies remains unclear, and further large, high-quality randomised controlled trials are needed. [Felbel S, 2014]

Another systematic review and meta-analysis on yoga for breast cancer patients and survivors included 12 RCTs with a total of 742 participants. Evidence was found for short-term effects on global health-related quality of life and spiritual well-being; these effects were, however, only present in studies with unclear or high risk of selection bias. Short-term effects on psychological health also were found. Subgroup analyses revealed evidence of efficacy only for yoga during active cancer treatment but not after completion of active treatment. The authors concluded that the systematic review found evidence for short-term effects of yoga in improving psychological health in breast cancer patients, but the short-term effects on health-related quality of life could not be clearly distinguished from bias.[Cramer H, BMC Cancer 2012]

Mental Health:

Another domain wherein the benefits of yoga are claimed is mental health. Many psychiatrists have started recommending yoga in the treatment of a variety of psychiatric disorders. Even institutes of excellence such as the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurociences, Bangaluru, have opened Yoga Therapy Centres.

The NIMHANS web site has this information on its Yoga Centre: The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India, being a pioneer institute for psychiatric and neurological services, has been conducting research in yoga since the early 1970’s. Considering the popularity of yoga, it was thought essential to establish an Advanced Yoga Therapy Centre in specialized fields of Medicine. Thus, the Advanced Centre for Yoga- Mental health and Neurosciences, a facility funded by the Ministry of Health, Govt. of India, was established at NIMHANS, Bangalore in November 2007. This centre was dedicated to Yoga promotion, training and research. The Advanced Centre provided service for patients and their caregivers suffering from psychiatric and neurological conditions, and also carried out pioneering research into the use of Yoga in neuropsychiatric conditions… NIMHANS has now established the Integrated Centre for Yoga to carry on the work of the Advanced Centre. [Advanced Centre for Yoga at http://nimhans.ac.in/nimhans/advanced-centre-yoga] So, a premier institute of evidence based medicine such as NIMHANS deems it appropriate to open a Yoga Center, considering the popularity of Yoga!

But where is the evidence for the benefits of yoga in the treatment of psychiatric illness?

A systematic review of yoga for neuropsychiatric disorders included 16 of the 124 trails that met rigorous criteria. It found Grade B evidence (sparse high grade data or substantial amount of low grade data) for a potential acute benefit in depression (four RCTs), for schizophrenia as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy (three RCTs), and in children with ADHD (two RCTs), and Grade C evidence (low grade data without the volume) in sleep complaints (three RCTs). RCTs in cognitive disorders and eating disorders yielded conflicting results. The authors concluded that biomarker and neuroimaging studies, those comparing yoga with standard pharmaco- and psychotherapies, and studies of long-term efficacy are needed to fully translate the promise of yoga for enhancing mental health.[Balasubramaniam M, 2013]

Another review of yoga in neuro-psychiatry concluded that the available research is limited by small sample size, few randomized studies, inadequate control, diversely modified yoga practices, limited assessments and lack of safety data that preclude any firm conclusions on efficacy of yoga on the various psychiatric and neurological disorders. The authors advocated requirement of more research to decisively assess the validity of applying yoga as a mainstream therapeutic treatment for neuro-psychiatric disorders.[ Anand KS, 2014]

Anxiety:

A Cochrane review on meditation therapy for anxiety disorders included two RCTs of moderate quality that used active control comparisons. The overall dropout rate in both studies was high (33-44%). Neither study reported on adverse effects of meditation. The authors concluded that the small number of studies included in the review do not permit any conclusions to be drawn on the effectiveness of meditation therapy for anxiety disorders and suggested that more trials are needed. [Krisanaprakornkit T, 2006]

Yet another review of CAM for anxious patients concluded that only few controlled studies evaluated yoga for anxiety disorders, and all have significant methodologic limitations and/or poor methodology reporting; the diagnostic conditions treated and both yoga interventions and control conditions varied; there is little information regarding safety or contraindications of yoga; the reported attrition rates were high in most studies, which may raise concerns about patient motivation and compliance.[Antonacci DJ et al, 2010]

Depression:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for depression included 12 RCTs with 619 participants. There was moderate evidence for short-term effects of yoga compared to usual care and limited evidence compared to relaxation and aerobic exercise. Limited evidence was found for short-term effects of yoga on anxiety compared to relaxation. Due to the paucity and heterogeneity of the RCTs, no meta-analyses on long-term effects were possible. No RCT reported safety data. [Cramer H, Depression and Anxiety 2013]

Schizophrenia:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for schizophrenia included five RCTs with a total of 337 patients. No evidence was found for short-term effects of yoga compared to usual care on positive symptoms, moderate evidence was found for short-term effects on quality of life compared to usual care and these effects were only present in studies with high risk of bias. No evidence was found for short-term effects on social function. Comparing yoga to exercise, no evidence was found for short-term effects on positive symptoms, negative symptoms, quality of life, or social function. The authors concluded that the systematic review found only moderate evidence for short-term effects of yoga on quality of life, and as these effects were not clearly distinguishable from bias and safety of the intervention was unclear, no recommendation could be made regarding yoga as a routine intervention for schizophrenia patients.[Cramer H, BMC Psychiatry 2013]

Menopausal Symptoms:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs on the effectiveness of yoga for menopausal symptoms included 5 RCTs with 582 participants in the qualitative review, and 4 RCTs with 545 participants in the meta-analysis. There was moderate evidence for short-term effects on psychological symptoms, but no evidence was found for total menopausal symptoms, somatic symptoms, vasomotor symptoms, or urogenital symptoms. Authors recommended more rigorous research to underpin these results, and recommended yoga as a preliminary, additional intervention for women who suffer from psychological complaints associated with menopause.[ Cramer H, EBCAM 2012]

Multiple Sclerosis:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies on yoga for multiple sclerosis included 7 RCTs with a total of 670 patients. Evidence for short-term effects of yoga compared to usual care were found for fatigue and mood, but not for health-related quality of life, muscle function, or cognitive function. The effects on fatigue and mood were not robust against bias. No short-term or longer term effects of yoga compared to exercise were found. The authors concluded that since no methodological sound evidence was found, no recommendation could be made regarding yoga as a routine intervention for patients with multiple sclerosis.[ Cramer H, PLoS ONE, 2014]

Epilepsy:

A Cochrane review of yoga for epilepsy included two unblinded trials with a total of 50 people. Although yoga showed possible beneficial effects, no reliable conclusions could be drawn regarding the efficacy of yoga as a treatment for uncontrolled epilepsy, in view of methodological deficiencies such as limited number of studies, limited number of participants randomised to yoga, lack of blinding and limited data on quality-of-life outcome. Authors recommended further high-quality research is needed to fully evaluate the efficacy of yoga for refractory epilepsy.[ Panebianco M, 2015]

Back Ache:

Yoga has been studied extensively in the treatment of back ache and some systematic reviews have found it to have some benefits.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for low back pain included 10 RCTs with a total of 967 chronic low back pain patients. Eight studies had low risk of bias. There was strong evidence for short-term effects on pain, back-specific disability, and global improvement. There was strong evidence for a long-term effect on pain and moderate evidence for a long-term effect on back-specific disability. There was no evidence for either short-term or long-term effects on health-related quality of life. The authors concluded that yoga can be recommended as an additional therapy to chronic low back pain patients.[Cramer H, Clin J Pain. 2013]

Rheumatic Diseases:

A systematic review of yoga for rheumatic diseases included 8 RCTs with a total of 559 subjects. In two RCTs on fibromyalgia syndrome, there was very low evidence for effects on pain and low evidence for effects on disability. In three RCTs on osteoarthritis, there was very low evidence for effects on pain and disability. Based on two RCTs, very low evidence was found for effects on pain in rheumatoid arthritis. No evidence for effects on pain was found in one RCT on carpal tunnel syndrome. No RCT explicitly reported safety data. The authors concluded that only weak recommendations could be made for the ancillary use of yoga in the management of FM syndrome, OA and RA.[Cramer H, Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013]

Fibromyalgia:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs on the efficacy and safety of meditative movement therapies such as Qigong, Tai Chi and Yoga in fibromyalgia syndrome included 7 studies with 362 subjects. Yoga had short-term beneficial effects on some key domains of FMS, and the authors recommended that there is a need for high-quality studies with larger sample sizes to confirm the results.[Langhorst J, 2013]

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

A Cochrane review of non-surgical treatment (other than steroid injection) for carpal tunnel syndrome included one trial of yoga involving 51 people and yoga significantly reduced pain after eight weeks compared with wrist splinting. The authors concluded that more trials are needed to compare treatments and ascertain the duration of benefit.[O’Connor D, 2003]

Fatigue:

A meta-analysis on the effects of yoga interventions on fatigue included 19 clinical studies with a total of 948 patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, dialysis, chronic pancreatitis, fibromyalgia, asthma, or nothing. Overall, the effects of yoga interventions on fatigue were only small, particularly in cancer patients and the authors concluded that the meta-analysis was not able to define the powerful effect of yoga on patients suffering from fatigue.[Boehm K, 2012]

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease:

A Cochrane review of breathing exercises for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease included 16 studies, of which two were of yoga, with a total of 74 patients. All types of breathing exercises over four to 15 weeks improved functional exercise capacity in people with COPD compared to no intervention; however, there were no consistent effects on dyspnoea or health-related quality of life. The authors concluded that the treatment effects for patient-reported outcomes may have been overestimated owing to lack of blinding and that these data do not suggest a widespread role for breathing exercises in the comprehensive management of people with COPD.[Holland AE, 2012]

Asthma:

A systematic review of RCTs for yoga for asthma included 6 RCTs and one NRCT. Their methodological quality was mostly poor. Three RCTs and one NRCT suggested that yoga leads to a significantly greater reduction in spirometric measures, airway hyperresponsivity, dose of histamine needed to provoke a 20% reduction in forced expiratory volume in the first second, weekly number of asthma attacks, and need for drug treatment. Three RCTs showed no positive effects compared to various control interventions. According to the authors, the belief that yoga alleviates asthma is not supported by sound evidence and further, more rigorous trials are warranted.[Posadzki P, 2011]

Yet another systematic review of RCTs for yoga for asthma included 14 RCTs with 824 patients. No effect was robust against all potential sources of bias and the authors concluded that yoga cannot be considered a routine intervention for asthmatic patients at this point.[Cramer H, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.2014]

Conditions affecting veterans:

A review of yoga interventions for conditions affecting veterans concluded that yoga can improve functional outcomes in patients with nonspecific chronic low back pain, but the existing evidence was found to be less clear about the effectiveness and safety of yoga for the other conditions of interest, and also that the quality of the primary studies was generally poor. The authors found few or no trials that evaluated the effectiveness and safety of yoga for prevention of falls, PTSD, or insomnia.[Coeytaux RR, 2014]

Stress and Memory:

Another review on the effects of yoga on stress response and memory concluded that due to the shortage of empirical evidence, along with several shared methodological limitations, further investigation is still needed to fully determine the efficacy of yoga as a beneficial mind-body therapy for decreasing both perceived and physiological stress-response, improving memory, and preventing stress and age-related hippocampal volume loss.[Longstreth H, 2014]

A review of the studies on the effect of meditation on cognitive functions in context of aging and neurodegenerative diseases found the conclusions of these studies to be limited by their methodological flaws and differences of various types of meditation techniques.[Marciniak R, 2014]

Children and Adolescents:

Yoga is being promoted in schools and colleges with a claim that it helps to improve physical as well as mental health of children and adolescents and that it helps to improve their concentration and memory. But where is the evidence?

A review of yoga for children and young people’s mental health and well-being that quite strongly suggests that yoga could provide tools for children and young people to remain centered or regain focus, so they may cope with the stress and challenges they experience in their everyday lives, goes on to conclude that there are gaps in the research pertaining to the relationship between various yoga techniques/practices and mental health benefit and that there is also a lack of empirical evidence evaluating the correlation between specific yoga practices and developmental milestones among young people.[Hagen I, 2014]

A systematic review of the literature on the therapeutic effects of yoga for children, published in 2008, concluded that larger clinical trials, including specific measures of quality of life were necessary to provide definitive evidence.[Galantino ML, 2008]

ADHD:

A Cochrane review of meditation therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) included 4 studies, two of mantra meditation and two of yoga. Design limitations caused high risk of bias across the studies and only one out of four studies provided data appropriate for analysis. There was no statistically significant difference between the meditation therapy group and the drug therapy group on the teacher rating ADHD scale and in the distraction test. The authors concluded that as a result of the limited number of included studies, the small sample sizes and the high risk of bias, they were unable to draw any conclusions regarding the effectiveness of meditation therapy for ADHD.[Krisanaprakornkit T, 2010]

Another review of yoga in the treatment of children with ADHD concluded that at present the small number of available investigations renders it impossible to draw any conclusions regarding the effectiveness of yoga for ADHD in children and that large, well-controlled, randomized trials are needed in order to establish the potential value of yoga as a single treatment or adjunct to standard ADHD therapies.[Lange KM, 2014]

Safety of Yoga:

And yoga, as is being promoted today, is not safe either. Anand KS and Rohit Verma caution thus: Although yoga is suggested to be relatively safe and well tolerated, there are risks of overstretching, strains, fractures and dehydration. It can worsen glaucoma as the inverted asanas increase the intraocular pressure by raising episcleral venous pressure and choroidal volume due to vascular enlargement. Inverted postures pose the risk of a sudden drop in blood pressure, which can induce a stroke or heart attack particularly in susceptible individuals. Bikram yoga, which is practiced in very hot temperatures, is likely risky for patients with multiple sclerosis. It must be noted that majority of RCTs have not reported any safety data on yoga.[Anand KS, 2014]

Another review by Cramer et al also cautions that yoga should be practiced carefully under the guidance of a qualified instructor. Beginners should avoid extreme practices such as headstand, lotus position and forceful breathing. Individuals with medical preconditions should work with their physician and yoga teacher to appropriately adapt postures; patients with glaucoma should avoid inversions and patients with compromised bone should avoid forceful yoga practices.[Cramer H, PLoS One. 2013] [Also see Broad WJ. How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. The New York Times Jan. 5, 2012]

So, where is the evidence for the claim that yoga can cure or prevent any ailment? Where is the Satya in the practice of Yoga?

(Edited on 21st June 2014 to include the sections on Children and Adolescents, Safety of Yoga and the References.)

References:

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About the author

Srinivas Kakkilaya

Physician practicing at Mangaluru, South India

251 Comments

  • Mr Srinivas,
    looks like the bandwagon of atheism is hellbent on its mighty campaign to disregard anything that religion has to do with…and targetting yoga now…good going but unfortunately i have access to atleast a thousand research journals where efficacy of yoga in treating mental disorders is emerging as a trend with the ongoing trend and life….

    being a pracitioner myself i have experienced the great effects and impacts myself(ofcourse you wont even try doing it rather rant over in your articles)….but no worries as it has to be a miracle that yoga is a global phenomenon just like a hoax isn’t it.

    i am a psycologist myself and both body biomechanics and breathing procedures are in complete compatibility with the yogic practise…you can write numerous more but yoga will continue to spread. keep living in your so called claims and high calls…but i would advise practise for your self to feel the difference… it is not a part of curriculum of the top armed forces of the world too

    • Vikramaditya,

      A whole lot of rhetoric, but nothing in way of citations. Unfortunately your comment is all talk and no substance.

    • Dear V Singh, For your kind information, ancient yoga had its origins in atheism! Even later, it was most popular among the atheists and agnostics!
      And I am very happy that I could find someone who has read thousands of research papers on yoga. In fact, I have been looking around for someone of your eminence. Please be kind enough to cite ONE paper that conclusively proves that yoga cures or prevents ANY human illness, JUST ONE paper from among the thousands that you have read. I will be eagerly waiting.

      • Mr.Srinivas Kakkilaya , after reading all your replies on the comments below , what is the actual cure then ? We know that ancient medical techniques are today not proven to be effectful , but what do we learn about our modern ways of “curing”resulting in side-effects , depersonalization, life changes .. . Dont you think the human body needs to find it’s peace through self absorption in order to bind inner metabolic flow , which is pretty much what chemicals do to us as well !And yoga is a fabulous way to stimulate our blood flow and hormones , which know to modern medicine our doing the job!
        We are still living in a medical stone age! All the best in your researches !

    • Dear Mr Singh, yoga is nothing but a light exercise with no obvious result for curing any disease. Even that can’t make you keep fit.

    • Well for starters you could perhaps spell psychologist correctly. What with you being a psychologist and all. Moreover, the fact that you seem to have an angst towards atheists isn’t helping your cause. I think you need to meditate a little. Deep breaths!

    • Thanks for your comments. You have written what I wanted to express. Yoga may not cure diseases but it sure gives positivity, strength to fight with disease. Pranayams do give stability to mind/ peace of mind.

      • Yoga do not give anything. Like GODS it is a business of some people. On the name of GODs they made religion for looting common man. Creating hatred among people.
        Tell the religious groups which do not exploit common man.

        All trusts gets money from Religious places from their own religious mass and built Schools and Hospitals.

        1. Do they assure schooling for their own religion people?
        2. Do they admit to their own religion person in Hospital?

        They welcome poor or rich in the religious places but throw from Schools and Hospitals.

        There are religions those even performing religious rituals they charge huge sum of money.

        All offer money, wealth, etc. to GOD but who eats? I request all the priests to honestly keep the money, wealth, etc. of god offered by devotees in the government custody and when GOD will appear and prove himself, that time government will give everything to GODs belonging to different religions.

        Till that no one should cheat god and theft god’s property.

    • I had a patient of myocardial infarction with hypotension. 10 days after AMI, his ejection fraction was 24% and was not eligible for intervention.
      I personally taught him light yoga for 5 days( one hour each).

      He improved and was discharged.1 month later his ejection fraction was 42%. The private doctor who did both the Echos outside the hospital did not charge for the second ECHO
      He lived for 13 years and died this year after a stroke.
      When I was investigating why he benefitted from yoga, I came across a UK based study which advocated implanting a pacemaker to decrease heart rate and thence improve ejection fraction. My patient had with yoga decreased his heart from 90-100 to the 70 to 80 range.

      all his treatment was free in the PSU hospital and i taught him yoga after office timing with no financial benefit to me.

      All our other patients benefitting from yoga pale out before this patient.
      Dr Kunda MD

  • Dear Mr Sing

    Please tell me one worthwhile article which shows significant benefit of Yoga in any mental disorders. Exogenic Depression may have moderate effect but that is true for many other forms exercise.Yoga itself does not do anything major. I am a psychiatrist and I would never recommend yoga as a treatment but as a form of aerobics or exercise I may suggest it.

    So yoga has no superiority over other forms of exercise per se.

    I am not an atheist rather a truth seeker.

    regards

    • Sir try the atheist route if you are a true atheist you will be like the Buddha if you are christian atheist you will be like Hitchens. I lke the true one better

      • My eyes are always open!
        The study by Janakiramaih has already been considered in the review by Balasubraniam that I have cited.
        The study by Gangadhar BN had 137 patients of whom only 58 could complete the trial! The authors themselves are unsure of what it offers
        The other one by Naveen et al is a by product of the above mentioned study and is not about any therapeutic powers of yoga.

        Now you may please open your eyes. Please.

        • When you pick and choose articles to support your claim it only shows your bias becomes clear.Just go to google and you will find a hundred studies that claim that yoga helps. It is a mindset of assuming thatthe weteren narrative of religion vs science is one of rationality vs irrationality and since yoga is hindu so it must be irrational. Religion was never in conflict with science contrary to popular Euro mythology, it anly became anatogonistic with Papal Christianity and then Islam.The modern paradigm is post Schroedinger post Heisenberg and it is not at all about science vs religion but between mechanistic thinking and quantum thinking.Ah yes Judeo Christian though is mechanistic

          • > When you pick and choose articles to support your claim it only shows your bias becomes clear.

            He didn’t pick and choose. He cited meta-analyses that are quite systematic about combining results.

            > It is a mindset of assuming thatthe weteren narrative of religion vs science is one of rationality vs irrationality

            It is indeed true, that the Indian anti-scientific dogmatism is of a different character than that of the American or European variety. We don’t waste our time with long creationism debates and denying global warming. Intolerant doctrinaire monotheism did indeed present a rather unique set of challenges for the development of modern science, than what Indian culture might have, had we been the first to reach the scientific age, had history played out differently.

            The Indian problem is different. It isn’t really East vs. West. Its ancient vs. modern. We just suspend our critical thinking whenever something is presented as ancient. As the author notes, we don’t care about the reality of the roots, we don’t care for effectiveness studies… we just stop thinking.

            I can perfectly understand why we are like this. For centuries, we suffered colonial insults and had to defend our culture. While we are being dominated, our ancient era is all we could be proud of, until recently. But it is time to recognize this reaction is no longer necessary. What we need to defend is that ancient Indian culture fared quite well against ancient Western (Greek, Roman) cultures. What we don’t need to defend are ancient ideas and epistemology against that of modern ideas and epistemology. The Indians and the Chinese will dominate science in 50 years or so. Will we still keep complaining that we are practicing foreign culture? Science/Math/Rationality have no nationality.

  • What Mr. Singh said does not have one word beyond rhetoric and abuse. Anyway that is the characteristic of the supporters of yoga many of whom claim to be practitioners depending on it for a living. Threatened with exposure this is the way they react.

  • Dear All,

    Please do consider Yoga as precaution not the prescription.
    Daily exercise is always good to be healthy, In that context Yoga is one such good way of exercise.

    • 1. What is being promoted is NOT yoga
      2. This ‘yoga’ is not even prevention, leave alone prescription; there are many other better and proven methods of prevention

      • you sure have done a lot of research, i just request you to watch this video and tell me yoga does not make you powerful.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVHdAZ536M0

        truly said, any exercise effects the body, making is healthy. you shall not find any specific reason why that happen, in Biology.
        read about kundalini, that explains why exercise is actually making body function better. and yogic exercises (also meditation) are specifically meant to effect that “kundalini”. and since yoga has poses it does not race ur heart, making it good for all ages of people.

        • The question isn’t about whether yoga can make you powerful. You would know that if you bothered to read the article rather than decide to defend yoga at all costs. But to answer your question about yoga making you strong, it can’t. Pick any power sport and look at the top performers. None of them got strong on yoga. Ramdev may stage any number of publicity gimmicks he wants, but he (or anyone who exclusively practices yoga) will never measure up against someone who does strength training.

          And Kundalini doesn’t exist. It is a delusional belief commonly found in woo ridden disciplines like yoga.

          • I was a little disappointed by the absence, in the exchange, of the (in)famous ‘kundalini’ (whatever that is). But then — sure enough — there it was! I thank Mr. Nishant for reminding us about good old kundalini. Can there be a more impressively resonant buzzword in the glossary of charlatanry than this magical and mysterious “kun-da-li-ni”? All the other pretenders to the throne, like vaastu, feng shui, reiki, nadi-josyam, etc. etc. look drab compared to the irradiance of kundalini! Quantum healing, hide your face in shame, you’re positively mundane when KUNDALINI decides to take the stage! Would the experts in kundalini please step out of the woodwork in greater numbers to provide us with some (unintended) humour in an otherwise uncheery world?

  • I am a 27yrs old Software Engineer from Bangalore. I haven’t read even a single research paper on yoga but I do yoga.

    I was suffering from severe indigestion and IBS. I took medicines for that (allopathy and ayurvedic both) but no use. I was underweight (even today I am). I was very weak emotionally, couldn’t at all control emotions.

    I started doing yoga around 4 months back and this has been the only thing till now which helped me to improve digestion, IBS. I gained around 5 Kgs of weight in that period and I have far more control over my emotions. Before starting yoga, I have tried other forms of exercises also but again of no use.

    I can give you the list of all the medicines I took and tests I went through. I am not a researcher and I have no scientific proof of anything but for me it just works.

    And thats only about me, other members in my family have also got immense benefits from Yoga practice.

    I strongly recommend yoga to everybody, Even to you Doctor !

      • No, I did not! I am from a middle class north Indian family and we have always followed a very simple vegetarian diet and I am continuing that only. And One thing to mention here that before starting yoga even for one day if I eat heavy food (for example food at a Punjabi restaurant), it would cause extreme discomfort in lower stomach. Today if eat same food outside it doesn’t cause much discomfort.

        Again, even today my digestion is far from perfect but the improvement is quite significant. And I am sure that if I keep practicing, which I am going to do for sure, one day I will get the “perfect digestion”.

        The other benefits I achieved are flexibility and strength in my body and immense benefits at emotional level.

        I want to make it very clear that I am not a political person, I am just another “Software Engineer” in the beautiful city of Bangalore.

        • IBS is due to altered gut-brain-gut bacteria signalling and different behavioural, cognitive, psychiatric methods are being tried in its treatment. There are only a handful of small, short term studies of yoga for IBS. If it has helped you, you can continue to use it. But then, it must be used in many more, and if similar improvement is found, a treatment protocol can be developed. As of now, the RCTs of yoga for IBS are not conclusive. One (Kuttner 2006) had problems with selection of cases and the other (Taneja 2004) had cases that did not follow up, causing bias.

          • The problem with you Doctor is that you read too much and act less. If like you, after reading all these research papers, I believed that YOGA is good for nothing, I would not have got significant improvement in my conditions.

            And let us suppose that after continuous practice of YOGA I am able to completely cure my IBS, which I am very hopeful of doing, I am not going to participate in any study to prove that I cured my IBS by practicing yoga for one hour each day. So my case will not be documented and people like you only believe in something which is documented.

            And what will you document? It requires months to get the flexibility to be able to do even the primary level of yoga poses. It takes years of practice to reach to advanced stage. You believe in scientific process. Do you have the patience to follow up for years before reaching any conclusion?

            Come out of your study table and start meeting the people who included yoga in their life and got immense benefits from it. I am sure you will get a lot of people who experienced the same what I am feeling.

            Or even better. Find out a well qualified yoga instructor and start doing yoga, do for at least 6 months and then see yourself.

          • It might have something to do with your mind, believing in yoga curing you can actually affect your eating and life style habits unconsciously therefore improving your condition.

          • @K mathur
            > The problem with you Doctor is that you read too much and act less.

            Its not the doctor that has a problem. You just don’t understand cognitive biases. Doctors are expected to read and act on data, not run by personal experience and anecdotes.

            > If like you, after reading all these research papers, I believed that YOGA is good for nothing, I would not have got significant improvement in my conditions.

            Lets say I have a long standing health problem. One day, I decide to sacrifice a goat to a local goddess. A few days after that I no longer have that problem. This does not automatically constitute proof that sacrificing goats to the said local deity is an effective treatment to the said disease. Testimonies like this are cheap and hardly have any knowledge value. Just because you noted an intervention prior to an event does not automatically establish a causal link. But the human mind is extremely prone to make this mistake.

            Likewise, if you take a mainstream medicine pill and your problem goes away, that incident alone also cannot be used as proof that the given pill works.

            So how can we tell? Please read about Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The lack of understanding of this fallacy is one of the reasons why the public does not understand why clinical medicine places so much emphasis on studies and why statistical data is so important.

            IBS is a frustrating disease to patients as well as current medicine because the exact cause is not easy to pin down in normal clinical settings. This gives a lot of room for preachers of alternative approaches to make hay. People keep trying a series of alternative approaches and ultimately believe that whatever they did just before the problem went away was the one that did the trick.

    • K mathur plzzz.. tell which types of asana and pryanam u do for increass ur weight.. coz i m also vry underweight and i hv also tried mny mdicne food spplmnts bt all in vain.. i hv also tried gym bt nthng cm.. so plz tell the name of asana n praynam u do fr weight gain..

      • First get a medical opinion on whether you are actually under-weight in an unhealthy sense. Chances are that you are not and you simply want to look bigger due to social pressures. We all have different genetics. Forcing weight on your body isn’t always healthy. Assuming you eat normal, nutritious meals, you don’t need supplements either.

      • I think Ravi’s comments makes sense here. I did not include yoga just to gain weight. Its always good to add yoga in daily routine but considering it a magic therapy is not good for both you and YOGA. I think presenting it as “Magic Therapy” has done serious damage to YOGA. Take help of a certified yoga teacher if you want to do it.

    • Hi K Mathur,
      I am happy to hear that yoga practise has worked for you. But I am the same case as you. I am 30 years old software engineer from Hyderabad. I have been suffering from digestive disorder since 2004. I have visited countless doctor’s and nobody could address my problems because all of my tests were negative. Finally in 2011 I have been formally diagnosed to have IBS in 2011 in AIG Hyderabad. From 2011 I have been trying different Alternate therapies bu no use. I have taken 6 month Homeopathy medicine followed by Ayurveda medicines but for me nothing is working at all. I had tried 6 months yoga program different Asanas, pranayama, meditation. But Dear it did not work for me. But when I heard people like Ramdev, etc, claiming that Yoga can cures all the disease I simply wonder how can they ppl claim all that nonsence. After encountering many fake people like Accupunture specialist, Naturopathologist, Reiky master, Hyposis etc they all made money from me, this completely convert me as a rationalist. Initially I used believe people. I never thought they would lie to propagate their self interest by any mean. Currently I am going thru the Ayurvedic medicine AVP Coimbatore. Lets see how it works. Friend I am living in a hell After trying different medication I am completely frustrated. When I heard from you yoga improved your condition of IBS. I wonder why it has not worked for me ? Did you follow any special process…..

      • No I did not follow special process and It looks strange to me that you did not feel any improvement in your condition after 6 months of practice. I am not a big fan of BABA RAMDEV. I included yoga because I was not getting help from anywhere. Initially I couldn’t do simple poses also. With time both my flexibility and strength increased.

        Did you go to any yoga teacher? Which poses you performed? and why did you stop after 6 months? I mean forget about IBS, Its always good to include some kind of physical activity in daily routine.

      • Chronic digestive system issues may have a deeper root cause. The gut microbiome may have lost balance, for example. In that case, exercise or various kinds of medication may have little or no effect.
        The microbes in the body outnumber our human cells by 9 to 1. They play very important role in the function of nervous system, digestive system, immune system and overall health. It is an active area of research and scientists are making progress in understanding the role of gut microbes and how to diagnose and fix issues related to them.

        http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290747.php

  • Well written Sir! Hats off. I was always wondering how this panacea namely “yoga” could cure so many diseases and yet in my own personal experience I have my uncle, a lifelong practitioner of “yoga”, recently diagnosed with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Why did it not cure his longstanding asthma and why couldn’t it prevent osteoarthritis and osteoporosis? This article proves my point. A day will come when they’ll chest thump it will cure HIV and other dreaded diseases also.

    I need to mention this here – what is this thing about everything being of Indian origin? Did the entire world originate in India only? I always get lectures from “pious and holy men” on how western society is imitating Indian origin science and we knew everything 5000 years ago or so. I hear from Sanskrit thumping people that even the origins of English and German are from Sanskrit, is it the truth? Please shed some light on this.

  • Hello Doctor,
    I am writing this with great personal respect and true concern. I am sorry if I have gone out of context of this article at some places.
    I happened to attend once a seminar(?) of a few forward thinking doctors (12-15) including you in Mangalore, where all of you talk one by one and declare that all other systems of therapy (including homeopathy and ayurveda)than the modern medicine (research-proven) are rubbish, and then everyone claps. You had presented a similar presentation as above. I was then, and I am now a firm supporter of science, and evidence and research based approach. But after that day I decided to stay away from those who have made it a mission of their life to prove something wrong. When ‘science’ becomes the slave of an ideology inside someone’s head, the science becomes a religion, and the thought process starts with the conclusion.
    I never believed in homeopathy. I used to make fun of it, until I myself got benifits of it. No, I am not saying that that proves homeopathy is a valid system. But I haven’t closed my mind. It may or may not be a valid system. If you block your mind and say that Science has proven it non sense-so it IS nom sense and it can’t be anything else, how can you call it science? Science is not a tank of stagnant water.
    Here your title itself says ‘no,yoga doesn’t cure ANY disease’. You have questioned the methadology, mentioned the biases, fine. But how does that PROVE that yoga is not helpful in any case? I would have applauded if you had called for more, authentic studies with better standards of research methadology. I am amused that you have somewhere used one single published case of dental erosion to mention that yoga could cause dental erosion! In another article you have reluctently mentioned that yoga my have some benifits in some cases. What proved now that yoga DOES NOT have anything good?
    I do not practice yoga. I am not advocating yoga too. But I feel that instead of using your brilliance to ridicule everything that is Indian, people like you should call for better studies regarding these subjects, keeping the conclusions open. That would be really of some practical service to the humanity, than thinking that the next immediate threat to the humans is yoga or homeopathy. I don’t see any difference between blindly believing in something and blindly opposing something. I believe that the latter, when done by intelligent, is more dangerous of the two.

    • Please read the title carefully: It says that yoga does not cure any disease. And it does not.
      I have quoted from all the references verbatim, only highlighting the conclusions. I am not opposing this yoga blindly; I have studied the origins of real yoga, evolution of this modern fake yoga, most of the research on yoga, and most of the systematic reviews and meta analysis published on such research. I have no pseudosympathy for pseudo yoga. Period. If any research proves that yoga (or homeopathy or Ayurveda) can cure anything, I will be the first person to accept that and prescribe that. But until we have such evidence, I will not prescribe it to patients, but rather caution them against it.
      And therefore I repeat: After 100 years of research and more than 3000 papers, there is no evidence that yoga can cure or prevent or significantly alleviate any illness.
      If new evidence emerges in due course, I will certainly write about that.

      • Well, You will never find a successful clinical trial in mainstream journals. Reason, you are measuring with a wrong yardstick.

        I am putting my argument as you have included ayurveda as a blind belief. All we are doing is, trying to prove/disprove its efficacy using our limited knowledge of english medicine (or parameters established by it).

        Today, western researchers are talking about visualization techniques which essentially have been part of yoga.

        You might have developed this view by visiting a few commercial ayurvedic docs. I strongly disagree with your comment.

        • And one more thing. Clinical trials are the biggest sh*t. It is not a science. It is just trial and error.

          Everytime you find an improvement, you say your sample size is small and not sufficient. Then why do small trials?

          • > Clinical trials are the biggest sh*t. It is not a science. It is just trial and error.

            Clinical trials are based on math… plain and simple. They are based on sound statistical theory that has successfully been applied in nearly all aspects of the modern world – from stock markets to physics. It is not controversial at all. It is not at all – “just trial and error”, as you put it.

            If you have not taken an adequate set of courses on Statistics, you will obviously not understand them. Once you understand probability, you will find them to be quite simply, common sense, rational methods.

            This isn’t to say that how we do clinical trials is perfect and without problems. Efforts are underway to fix the problems we have recognized (publication bias, for instance). This is within the normal self-correcting framework of science. But the foundations of the approach are considered to be quite sound at this point.

            > Everytime you find an improvement, you say your sample size is small and not sufficient. Then why do small trials?

            Small trials are done as low-cost preliminary efforts. They are not meant to be conclusive at all. They are meant to point to places where it is worth placing limited and expensive research resources into.

            Ask yourself this: Have you ever seen a rationalist cheering for a drug that has ONLY cleared a small sample trial? You can hardly accuse rationalists of being selective on evidence.

        • No one termed Ayurveda as blind belief. Modern Ayurveda, like the modern yoga, is far from its origins. And present day Ayurveda practitioners are trying to treat cholesterol and such other ‘English’ diseases! RCTs are simple methods of testing any hypothesis and Ayurveda or yoga must be able to prove themselves easily, if they are really effective.

      • Haven’t you noticed Arvind Kejriwal’s khansi before and after he went to that ayurveda hospital also he was so sick due to high blood pressure and after the therapy it dropped significantly.
        About yoga,I don’t do yoga myself. Its not that I believe in it or not but I’ m really stunned of acupressure therapy, sometimes you can notice the difference in just seconds although that would not be permanent, it would still take its time to permanently cure you of the disease.

        • First, I’d take all cultural testimonies of politicians with a rather large grain of salt. It is important for them to at least appear to believe/practice what their voters believe in.

          Second, the whole point of science is to not fall for “personal experience” and anecdotes. That’s the whole reason why we do studies. Because the alternatives have been shown to be extremely unreliable on examination.

          Whatever your experiences with Acupressure are, there is no good data to suggest that acupressure can “cure” anything either. As for temporary relief, placebo effect can be quite strong. Do remember that the concepts underlying acupressure/acupuncture, much live Ayurveda, have been generated from an extremely primitive understanding of how the body works and how disease processes work.

          From what I recall, the evidence says, sticking needles into people after telling them it is therapeutic leads to reports of relief. Sticking extra needles seems to lead to extra relief as well :-). But ignoring the prescribed meridians (this we can better blind the patient to, unlike the sticking needles bit) has no difference in effect.

          • @Ravi

            I agree, it is math and statistics as you say. But statistics is not science. And pure math never trusts trial and error. Except in the field of medicine, statistical analysis as an evidence is rejected everywhere else (barring those journals which can publish any thing).

            And coming to clinical trials, what do they do.. they try on random samples to test a drug if it ‘kills’ or ‘saves’.

            You should also understand that there is an element of marketing in these trials. If a new cancer drug increases average life of its sample by 2 weeks, it is hailed. You can guess what they say for same result with one ayurvedic medicine.

            Understand that these therapies are not miracle drugs. They can help you fight diseases(occasionally better).

            Yes, I agree that preliminary work is done on small samples. Why can’t they do extensive trials if some improvement is found?

            And when you say these traditional treatments provide temporary relief.. what does allopathy medicine do? You have a pain and your doc give a pill to block some receptor and you are happy.

          • @Raghavendra R

            > But statistics is not science.

            Statistics is math. Math supports science.

            > And pure math never trusts trial and error.

            What exactly do you mean by “trial and error”? Is the concept that you are trying to communicate: Experimentation?… because that is much of what science is about.

            > Except in the field of medicine, statistical analysis as an evidence is rejected everywhere else

            Where did you get this idea? It is completely untrue. Statistical analysis is accepted *everywhere*. I can’t think of a SINGLE science where statistical analysis is rejected. Can you name even one?

            > (barring those journals which can publish any thing).

            You mean like alternative medicine journals? Most have horrible standards. Actually most journals are not good these days since it had become a bit of a business. Simply being published in a journal means little. Serious researchers just stick to ones with high impact factors, with long track records of maintaining quality peer review.

            > And coming to clinical trials, what do they do.. they try on random samples to test a drug if it ‘kills’ or ‘saves’.

            That’s not what they do at all. I don’t think you know how modern scientific research is done. Today, everything is probed in extraordinary detail. Nearly every basic science is brought to bear. Its not at all some kind of throwing darts into the dark that you imagine it to be.

            > You should also understand that there is an element of marketing in these trials.

            Certainly. There is a commercial component to medicine, which academic medicine constantly tries to balance that out. There are governmental regulations that guide these trials. There are often no such standards for alternative med research. Many don’t even contain what they claim to contain, let alone produce trustworthy research.

            Can the process be corrupted?… certainly. There are checks and balances for that and the research community is quite watchful and proposes new regulations when any procedural holes are found.

            > If a new cancer drug increases average life of its sample by 2 weeks, it is hailed.

            No one “hails” a mere 2 week improvement in survival rate (perhaps, you are just trying to make point – that’s fine). But yes, Cancer is one of those areas where modest improvements are accepted because they are better than nothing. Success across cancer varies. For some, reasonable rates of “cure” (good survival rates) exist. For others, not so much.

            > You can guess what they say for same result with one ayurvedic medicine.

            The problem with Ayurvedic medicine research is that there are hardly any good quality studies to begin with. The sample sizes are often so low that you cannot even say with confidence whether it made any difference at all.

            Show me an Ayurvedic cancer study which has the same quality standards as that of a best mainstream study for a given cancer. I am not aware of any myself.

            At least with expensive cancer treatments, you statistically know what you get. With alternative drugs, that data does not exist… often just chest-thumping claims. Often, the claims even lack plausibility arguments to the degree we expect in the modern world.

            > Understand that these therapies are not miracle drugs. They can help you fight diseases(occasionally better).

            “Better” is something we can say only from data with adequate statistical power. Occasionally/Maybe better should not be terms we throw around generously, without a basis in data. Science is supposed to be critical.

            > Yes, I agree that preliminary work is done on small samples. Why can’t they do extensive trials if some improvement is found?

            Often, the effect found is so small, that even though it is possible that it might be later reliably revealed to be slightly better than giving a placebo, that is not good enough. A better medicine with a much larger effect size typically already exists in the market. However, if the effect found in the preliminary study is large, no one would want to not follow up.

            Some time ago, someone pointed me to a cow urine study on cancer. It claimed effectiveness. But the study was so laughable. From what I recall, they had a very small sample size, did not blind the subjects to treatment, took a subjective assessment via a survey (Wha?), did not standardize on any cancer, nor did they standardize on any particular symptom which they claimed to improve. How can one take these studies seriously? No, I am not saying that all Ayurvedic research is this bad. I am just trying to make a point that claiming “some improvement” is not good enough.

            > And when you say these traditional treatments provide temporary relief.. what does allopathy medicine do?

            First, there is no such thing as allopathy. The term is a propaganda term by homeopathy. It invented the term because it needed a strawman to fight against. The proper term is modern medicine or scientific medicine. It is based on whatever is the current state of Science & Technology is today.

            I would say that modern scientific medicine is the only one to even attempt to correct the “root cause” of disease, because it is the only one that spends ENORMOUS amounts of resources to even FIND OUT what they are. There is not even an effort by the systems of these so called “traditional systems” to uncover that. What labs are homeopaths running on cell biology? What studies are herbal medicine proponents running on protein channel structure? etc. etc. These are NOT the things that modern medicine made up. This is stuff in your body that had always existed. Sure, they may claim the effect on this or that channel, but they certainly are not bothering to lead in uncovering biological realities.

            > You have a pain and your doc give a pill to block some receptor and you are happy.

            Your doctor will never give you a pill to simply relieve you of pain, if there is a means to correct the root cause (Bone fractured. Pain caused by raw surfaces moving… so splint it to immobilize it). If you have cramps from a stomach infection, a doctor gets a stool study, gets the organism identified and prescribes a drug that kills it – that’s your root cause. Giving some random stomach cramp traditional treatment that does not even account for the existence of microbes is pure symptomatic treatment. If you have recurrent sinusitis, and if the root cause is lack of proper drainage, the doctor will prescribe a surgery to fix that. That is treating the root cause, not mere symptomatic relief via some generic pain medication. Of course, in many cases, the problems are minor, and the problem is of the nature that it gets resolved by itself, then a pain medication is all that is needed.

          • I don’t need any goddamn papers to acknowledge that whenever I put pressure on a specific point on my sole it relaxes my frozen shoulder.

      • You are stuck in the Kantian paradigm when science has shifted out into quantum reality.
        The studies conducted have also said otherwise but even if that were not the case are you aware that there is a connection between mind and body . I know that this monistic hermeneutics is foreign to those brought up in Judeo Christian dualism and its incarnation in empiricism and Kant, who are basically theology based seculars.
        Yoga promotes harmony of mind and matter, and even if there are flaws in it its paradigm is not theological as is your behind a mask atheism. Tell me does heart disease have a component of stress? What about other diseases? Is there an investigation into it? let me ask you another question. What role does mind play in the development of a disease and ints control/ Even if there are false starts
        this is the question of the day. How do you deal with this. Western philosophy is so shallow that it has never approached objective reality from the point of view of the subject. Husserl and Heideggar tried but failed because they are stuck in a theological quagmire, as sir are you.
        the realm of the self looking and feeling the world is left to religion in the west and thus the unbridgeable gap between mind and matter.
        Any attempt to approach the object from the point of view of the subject is discarded as it is supposedly the realm of jesuit dogma. or Kantian Noumena
        Please understand this methodology is a possibility but the dogmatic approach of the object looking at the subject is reversion to Diderot’s mechanistic materialism that /Marx had denied.
        I have seen the benefits of yoga in my students as I am a jock .
        And yes I stopped taking Lipitor six years ago against the prescription of my doctor, emphasizing diet and meditation
        I know that this is only anecdotic and not scientific, but good enough for me.
        Kareem Abdul Jabbar played great basketball till age 42.
        He did yoga 2 hours a day and attributes his success to yoga. Yes he is a muslim.
        Lebron james is not only the greatest basketball player of all time he puts in more minutes per game then anyone in the history of basketball, and yes no injuries, and yes yoga 2 hours a day.
        I have no intent of converting you as the samskaras are deep
        or of attacking you. You seem to be an inquisitive young man, try studying the monistic philosophy of Spinoza instead of Descartes dualism, Try Nagasena’s empiricism and compare it to Hume’s. Please give yourself a chance to study this from the point of view of experience as well.
        incidentally my Ph.D dissertation is in support of Marxist Adorno over Phenomenologist Heideggar, so I am an atheist

        • > You are stuck in the Kantian paradigm when science has shifted out into quantum reality.

          Unless you are a particle physicist, well-versed in its mathematics, its best not to talk about quantum anything. Otherwise, you end up with New Age mumbo-jumbo… ala Deepak Chopra.

          > The studies conducted have also said otherwise but even if that were not the case are you aware that there is a connection between mind and body.

          Everybody agrees that there is a connection between mind and body, because the brain is a part of the body. Of course, I am talking about plain neuro-science. I hope you aren’t taken in by the mind-matter quantum mumbo-jumbo that the New Agers talk about here.

          > I know that this monistic hermeneutics is foreign to those brought up in Judeo Christian dualism and its incarnation in empiricism and Kant, who are basically theology based seculars.

          Hilarious. What does hermeneutics have anything to do with this? I understand that hermeneutics is a very cool word for you. I like it myself. If it is post-modernism, you are getting at, this is what scientists laugh at (after listening to the PM case with an open-mind and ultimately learning that it had nothing to offer except bluster). Post-modernist woo is what gave Philosophy a bad name in recent times. Please look up Sokal’s Affair and books written by Alan Sokal on the topic.

          Kant is read for entirely historical purposes today. Modern science is not run by old philosophies, regardless of however loud you may proclaim so. Data is driving paradigm shifts, at the moment. Philosophy more often comes in after the shift had already begun, attempting to make sense of what had just transpired. You just won’t be taken seriously if you make data-free arguments… and you are.

          > Yoga promotes harmony of mind and matter, and even if there are flaws in it its paradigm

          What paradigm? The paradigm of getting uncritically gullible whenever vague, slanted terms like “harmony” are used?

          > is not theological as is your behind a mask atheism.

          No. Science is not theological at all. Perhaps you just read more theology than science; and so it may look that way to you. What credentials do you have in science? If not, why do you think you know enough of it to critique it?

          > Tell me does heart disease have a component of stress? What about other diseases? Is there an investigation into it?

          Plenty.

          > let me ask you another question. What role does mind play in the development of a disease and ints control

          If you are genuinely curious, you should start with reading textbooks on Pathology, Psychiatry and Medicine, rather than look for answers here.

          > Western philosophy is so shallow that it has never approached objective reality from the point of view of the subject.

          Oh, it did. I pointed you to Francis Bacon earlier (Idols of the mind). And you surely know of Plato’s cave. What it didn’t do generally, was like what it saw. That’s not shallow. It just took certain stands that you don’t like.

          A modern summary of the problems of subjectivity:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

          > Husserl and Heideggar tried but failed because they are stuck in a theological quagmire, as sir are you.

          I don’t find Husserl and Heidegger interesting. I wasn’t raised in the West to find them amusing. Growing up in India, I was surrounded by people who knew nothing but personal experience as THE source of reality. I was trying to get away from it from perhaps second or third grade, after understanding how superstitions work, how plentiful they were and how easy it was to manipulate the human mind into reaching erroneous conclusions. That wasn’t from reading Western Philosophy at all. I didn’t read Western Philosophy until 2 decades later.

          You assume too much in that the Indian rationalist is a product of Western cultural/theological influence. Rationalism in India never needed outside help. There were rational intellectual traditions over here before any Western influence was introduced.

          > the realm of the self looking and feeling the world is left to religion in the west

          And Pot. You are forgetting Pot :-).

          On a serious note: What does this quote mean to you?
          “The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
          No self-looking here? Not even a little bit?
          You know, you don’t need to deride other cultures to honor and celebrate your own.
          The Orphic cults had plenty of “feeling the world”. The medieval monks might not have done breathing exercises. But they had vows of silence that served similar meditative and reflective purposes.

          > and thus the unbridgeable gap between mind and matter.

          What gap? Mind is situated in matter (Brain). Mind is entirely a function of biological matter. No one is saying otherwise.

          > I have seen the benefits of yoga in my students as I am a jock .

          Unless you have seen things mathematically, you haven’t seen enough… scientifically speaking. Work through a course on Probability to understand why (and several more to get good enough at it to actually use it properly).

          > I know that this is only anecdotic and not scientific, but good enough for me.

          That’s only because you don’t understand Probability.

          > try studying the monistic philosophy of Spinoza

          I already know my Spinoza… mostly out of historical interest of his approach to metaphysics. Spinoza has little to offer to the modern scientist. This isn’t 17th century.

          > , Try Nagasena’s empiricism and compare it to Hume’s.

          I say this again: You should try studying the probability theory, before getting all philosophical and theological. Modern Science has come a long way from the philosophies of early empiricists.

          > Please give yourself a chance to study this from the point of view of experience as well.

          What does studying experiences mean to you? Get a lot of subject testimonies? There is already a place for these… in Anthropology.

          > incidentally my Ph.D dissertation is in support of Marxist Adorno over Phenomenologist Heideggar

          You don’t sound like someone who did a standard Philosophy PhD. All of them have their feet on the ground when it comes to understanding science. You don’t. You sound like someone who read Philosophy books, all by yourself, without any benefit of frequent (at least weekly) critical, face-to-face, discussions with a scholarly mentor… and thus got very carried away. Is this an online PhD? That would explain. Is the university that granted you a PhD, a properly ranked, regular, brick & mortar institution? I am not trying to be insulting in asking this.

  • Thanx for giving details of investigations on so called Yoga Therapy. I am clinical psychologist. Practicing cognitive psychotherapy since 10 years. I got clients who had meditation and yoga therapy, All of them were failed to get benefit from those junk therapies. Forget about cure. Instead, they were worsened their psychological problems due to those alternative health systems. Yoga and meditation are FAITH therapies. And you know that Faith is subjective entity.

  • The reason I want to call this article completely biased is for the simple reason that you use handpicked articles to make sweeping statements such as “Yet, after 100 years of studies that churned out more than 3000 papers, the proponents of ‘yoga therapy have failed to find any conclusive evidence for the efficacy of yoga in treating any illness.” There could be no bigger lie than this. You bias is quite evident in the phrases you choose to highlight in the very papers you have chosen.

    For example, the paper on Carpal tunnel syndrome says – for carpal tunnel syndrome included one trial of yoga involving 51 people and yoga significantly reduced pain after eight weeks compared with wrist splinting. But you choose to highlight only the phrase that says “more trials are needed”. Of course, which medical paper does not say “More trials are needed” to further validate!! Your own paper on back pain says – Eight studies had low risk of bias. There was strong evidence for short-term effects on pain, back-specific disability, and global improvement. There was strong evidence for a long-term effect on pain. For depression – There was moderate evidence for short-term effects of yoga compared to usual care and the very article on Hypertension says – yoga reduces SBP by 4mmHg and DBP by 3.6mm Hg and that is significant!). Subgroup analyses demonstrated significant reductions in blood pressure for.

    You choose to ignore the very statements supporting Yoga but base your conclusions on statements that request further validation. Further validation, does not indicate doubt in their own results but is a way to strengthen findings.

    As you only care about citations supposedly, i thought you should probably read this from NIH – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/. Because you have a habit of missing the important pieces of every paper you read i thought i should at least highlight something for you.

    On depression – “Consistent yoga practice improves depression and can lead to significant increases in serotonin levels coupled with decreases in the levels of monamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters and cortisol”

    On Arthritis, osteoporosis – “Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga.[5] With continued practice comes a gradual loosening of the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the bones and joints; this is thought to be one reason that yoga is associated with reduced aches and pains. Yoga helps to build muscle mass and/ or maintain muscle strength, which protects from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain.”

    Overall well being – “Yoga increases blood flow and levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which allows for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function”

    Each of these statements are based on citations in the article i have mentioned. If only you removed your blinders and chose to read papers in an unbiased and scientific manner or better practiced Yoga yourself, I am sure your conclusions would be drastically different.

  • And to add to my previous comment, is this research on why Yoga is effective – Rapid Gene Expression Changes in Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes upon Practice of a Comprehensive Yoga Program –> http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0061910

    Highlighting something useful for you – “the first set of studies on long-term (months to years) yogic/meditative practitioners have found that these practices may positively affect gene expression profiles in immune cells in the circulation”. Further the research adds – “we hypothesized that these practices may have measurable rapid effects on gene expression patterns in circulating immune cells of participants.” and “In summary, the data we present show that yogic practices have rapid effects at the molecular level in circulating immune cells.”

    There you have it, at least I proved that your statement that “all” studies have shown Yoga to be ineffective is “factually” incorrect. So much for your readings of 1000’s of papers!

    • I did not omit anything from the reviews/meta analysis for the simple reason that I should not be blamed for bias. All the studies that you have listed have shown some benefits, and these benefits are small (3-4mm of blood pressure is very small) and most of the studies that showed these benefits had risks of bias or issues with methodology and that is why the authors recommended further studies, long term and on larger samples. Until such studies are done and results are available, benefits of yoga will remain unproven and yoga will not be recommended as treatment.
      I have also read the other review that you have quoted http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/: it is not a systematic review or a meta analysis but, in author’s own words, “a study to assess the findings of selected articles”.

      • Quoting your own statement – “Until such studies are done and results are available, benefits of yoga will remain unproven”. Unproven probably, but not completely dismissed as you have in the “title” of your article. So, Is there a large sample study, with no bias that disproves the effectiveness of Yoga? When there is no such study how do you arrive at such sweeping conclusions? I myself do not think of Yoga as “the only” treatment regimen that solves every single problem known to mankind. I can understand if the article was trying to educate people against false claims being made of Yoga curing Cancer and what not, but generalizing this to even the basic health benefits and general physical and mental well-being is too far-fetched.

        Your own citations hardly prove the point you make in the introduction to the article. The studies do suggest positive findings with the necessity of further studies. This is the case with the citations in the gene expression paper too. My question is does this mean it is “ineffective”?

        • So every yoga treatment must be considered as proven! As I have written, yoga was never a method of treatment in India or elsewhere. Even now it is not. The thousands of studies on yoga have not even been able to standardise the methods, leave alone curing. Let large and long term studies happen, if and when methodological issues are resolved. If they could be resolved at all.

    • Also, with regard to the paper on gene expression:
      The article starts with a sweeping statement that “One of the most common integrative medicine (IM) modalities is yoga and related practices. Previous work has shown that yoga may improve wellness in healthy people and have benefits for patients.” and quotes ref 5-7 to substantiate this claim. Please read thru these 3 articles and decide for yourself.
      Also Google gene expression+exercise and you will get hundreds of papers on gene expression in different cells related to different kinds of exercise. That does not prove that yoga can prevent, treat or cure any ailment.

      • Mr. Srinivas, In this exchange, your biases, unfortunately are clear. When the papers you quoted are the ones that are saying ‘there is some benefit but more studies are required’, you on the other hand are categorical and dismissive about the benefits of Yoga. I have no need to use stronger words against you and your article. You also say that Yoga is not ancient, yoga is not Hindu, etc. While Ashtanga Yoga by Patanjali Rishi is one of the first codified methodologies of yoga, references of Yoga start in Vedas, and continue in all forms of Hinduism, and our Puranas. If you ever need, I will be glad to provide actual sloka references to yoga in Vedas. Hinduism is proud that it has allowed Sanatana Dharma to be constantly upgraded, changed, and adapted to suit current contexts. Thus there evolved many Smritis. Stop looking at Indian/Hindu practices from the lens of western practices, and you will open yourself to new possibilities.

        • > When the papers you quoted are the ones that are saying ‘there is some benefit but more studies are required’

          I think the problem here is that most of the people who have problems with the article and the author appear to be those who have limited experience in reading medical research papers and don’t know how to understand them.

          No one is contesting whether Yoga has “some benefit”. Yoga is a bout of physical activity. Of course, you would expect to find some benefit over doing nothing (if that’s the control group). This isn’t an interesting finding in itself. It could even be considered bizarre, if it produced no effects at all.

          What is being contested is whether an hour of Yoga has more benefit than an hour of more mundane exercises like walking and whether it cures any diseases as some of its proponents claim.

          Will the studies report some small improvements in physiological parameters from doing Yoga? they likely will (and do – to the extent that light and moderate exercise tends to). This does NOT prove the mystical-Yoga proponent’s point. The proper question to ask here is: is Yoga any better than any other low to moderate exercise. The data so far consistently says it isn’t.

          To repeat: Light to moderate exercise is good for everyone, compared to doing nothing. Yoga can be one way to get this light to moderate exercise. The rationalist argument is just about not making the claims larger than what the data can support. Misinformation in this regard has public health consequences – and in the current situation… on a national scale. Criticizing bombastic claims about Yoga isn’t some anti-national or anti-Hindu stance, a charge that people often casually love to fling at the rationalist critique. This is a patriotic stance that is concerned with the health of Indians – that they be informed about what the scientific facts are in health matters, rather than be taken in by rhetoric and platitudes rooted in fiction, rather than research.

          At the end of the day, after this Yoga drive, if people generally get more exercise than they did before, it is a win for India. If they do Yoga, get lulled into complacency by mystical claims and pay less attention to scientifically proven interventions, that would be a loss for India. What matter are outcomes.

          As far as the “more studies are required”. Just about every research paper ends in this statement… to the point that I know at least one top journal that has proposed banning this statement because while true, it is a completely useless statement. More research is required for almost everything. It does not prove any point for your case.

        • Yes, I am categorical that there is not even ONE study that conclusively PROVES that yoga can CURE or PREVENT ANY disease. And I am making this statement after going through many of the published studies, their systematic reviews and meta analyses. If you have ONE paper that provides such proof, please share it with us.
          I have not said that yoga is not ancient; but I assert that ‘the modern yoga’ is not ancient at all. And I must thank you for mentioning the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali Rishi; the yoga that is being trumpeted and practiced on the streets and on Raj Path is NOT Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali Rishi. If it is, please explain how. And Yoga is not Vedic, but some thing else; please update your knowledge.
          The fact is, modern yoga has more to do with the West, not my “lens” onto it!

  • I did not include this paper as it was not very much relevant to the topic. It only states that yoga and exercise are almost same, but goes on to add that “additional studies using rigorous methodologies are needed to examine the health benefits of the various types of yoga” Back to square one.

    • “The studies comparing the effects of yoga and exercise seem to indicate that, in both healthy and diseased populations, yoga may be as effective as or better than exercise at improving a variety of health-related outcome measures.”

      The paper concludes that Yoga maybe “as effective or better”.

      If the wordings there are not that convincing to you, please check this link : http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2009.0044

      Result says “In the studies reviewed, yoga interventions appeared to be equal or superior to exercise in nearly every outcome measured except those involving physical fitness.”

      I dont understand why you stated this paper is not relevant to the topic !. This is one study that analyze 81 studies about yoga that got published in PubMed. Do you have access to the content of the above cited paper ? If yes can you share it with us or atleast tell us where they got it wrong or were they went unscientific.

      Regards,
      Rahul

      • I have written about the claims that yoga can cure or prevent human diseases. The paper that you have cited is about comparison of yoga and exercise. It only shows that the observed benefits, whatever they may be, are equal or in some cases superior in the yoga cohorts.

        Do any of the included studies indicate that yoga or exercise can cure or prevent any illness?

        Another review, by Chu et al that I have cited under cardiovascular diseases, concluded thus:
        There is promising evidence of yoga on improving cardio-metabolic health. Findings are limited by small trial sample sizes, heterogeneity, and moderate quality of RCTs. And also mentioned this under the Results: No significant difference was found between yoga and exercise.

        And these were the news headlines about the very same paper:

        Yoga reduces cardiovascular risk as much as walking or cycling, study shows – BMJ 2014;349:g7713!

        Yoga may provide similar health benefits to ‘cycling or brisk walking’ – The guardian

        Yoga is as healthy for your heart as cycling: Studies find it helps weight loss and cuts blood pressure – The Daily Mail

        Compare the conclusion of the authors of the review and these headlines: they are several miles apart and misleading. That is the danger.

      • Just to clarify, I dont have an opinion that yoga can be used as a primary health care for any disease. At the max, it can only be used as complimentary health care. What i’m interested in is to find whether at least those claims are scientific. Does simple stretches,asanas and medication, when done in yoga format, has any effect on stress and mental health.

        • I was in no way negating with your article. I was just curious to know what they ment by saying “yoga benefits physical and mental health via down-regulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).”

          I’m stressing on the mental health here because stretching exercise when done in yoga format or in normal aerobical exercise routine format will have the same effect on physical health. But what about the mental health ? Does yoga have the same stress reducing potential as that of other exercises ? If yes, doesnt it qualify as a complimentary health care ?

          The reason i cited this paper was, in the stress section of this article, you cited a paper saying there was no empirical evidence for that and this paper which got published in PubMed claims to have lot of evidence for the same.

          • Please read the review by Anand KC and Rohit Verma of AIIMS and decide for yourself

  • Sir, you seem to have missed my point. All i wanted to say was that, just as questionable evidence is not sufficient to make sweeping comments supporting yoga, lack of trustworthy evidence does not call for sweeping statements like ‘no, yoga DOES NOT…’
    The approach must have been “questionable until proven”. Your approach seems to be ” disproved, condemnable, rediculed and rubbished until proven”..

    • No, it is as simple as this: Do not claim that yoga can cure any particular disease, do not claim that yoga is a system of medicine, do not allow a yoga instructor to pose as yoga therapist
      Only to save the gullible public

      • The question is wheter you come from the mechanistic school of thought, where mind is a superstructure of matter, rather then dialectically related. Yoga is development of physical and mental energies to fight immune system as well as to develop the mind.
        You do not prescribe exercise, you probably do not even believe that stress could cause a heart attack.
        You are from the Certesian Dualistic thinking long discarded in physics by Schroedinger and discarded by Marx in epeistemology. If however you believe that the dualism of mstter and mind is permanent then I have no answer. If there is a connection we should be seeking a metric for it.

        The judeo-Christian ossified dogmatism is hard to fight.
        since it relies on authority not experience.
        You should ask the experts in Yoga not provide a littany of research done imprecisely with a dogmatic paradigm and assumptions

        Tell me what is the position of mind and mater in your epistemology rather then what the others do wrong. It was said that India has no Hitchins . They are wrong the unsientific atheism is alive and well.

        Incidentally even the Cleveland Clinic prescribes Yoga

        • > Yoga is development of physical and mental energies to fight immune system as well as to develop the mind.

          So point to a study that shows that it better empowers the immune system *than does normal exercise*.

          > You do not prescribe exercise.

          Write down here, based on research data, what the effect size is for different interventions in *diabetes* (let’s save heart disease for another discussion). a.) Exercise b.) Yoga c.) Diet and d.) Medication are.

          Then we can rationally (rather than rhetorically) discuss whether the author is sensible or not.

          > You are from the Certesian Dualistic thinking long discarded in physics by Schroedinger

          On what basis do you say that? I’d say that mystical-Yoga proponents believe in this dualism. Science does not. Check with modern psychologists (rather than say, Freud), psychiatrists and neuro scientists.

          > and discarded by Marx in epeistemology

          Are you a proponent of dialectical materialism, per chance? Are you familiar with Trofim Lysenko?

          > The judeo-Christian ossified dogmatism is hard to fight.

          What exactly do you mean by “judeo-Christian ossified dogmatism”? To me, it means authority by revelation. Along the lines of: Its in the Bible, therefore it must be true. This is closer to what mystical Yoga proponents arguments: It was mentioned in this and that ancient texts. So it must be awesome because everything from ancient India can only be awesome. No need for checking anything scientifically. If the results find something we don’t like, you must be a dumb person who is taken in by the glitz of foreign thinking. Your paradigm of testing is wrong, even though I won’t say what the right paradigm is…. This isn’t ossified thinking for you?

          > You should ask the experts in Yoga not provide a littany of research done imprecisely with a dogmatic paradigm and assumptions

          A good deal of this research was done by Yoga institutes, as the author noted.

  • If yoga is practised as a fad or as a pastime one cannot have any objections. But when it is claimed as a therapeutic tool the way then evidence is needed.

  • Dear Srinivas,Good effort to proove yoga doesnot cure any disease.I ask you one question, Do any of the diseases you mentioned have a permanant cure by using evidence based medication? does any medicine without being changed to another new medicine since it discovered are being used for these diseases and yet not permanantly cured? Since always to unreveal itself for the unanswerable question, whether you call it yoga, allopathy or ayurveda. Bias and stern beliefs on one idea that too with negative attitude ends road to find solutions for un answerable questions. Young people like you should keep mind open and contribute something positive to help the society. Here i shall say one incidence, when epidural anaesthesia is introduced to reduce labour pains in Uk for painless and safe delivary of a child, one article by a neonatologist who wrote that epidural analgesia cause neonatal sepsis just like you wrote stopped use of epidural analgesia in UK.And it took another 10 years for this epidural analgesia for women to get benifit to have painless labour. Instead of defending yourself against the coments, I request you to introspect the article. God bless you.

    • Dear all, its easy to deny any practice. Difficult to substantiate the positive effects of things like YOGA. Our Indian system never had any modern research after invasion of Western culture. Our culture, in historic days was not to share knowledge. Knowledge was limited to certain caste. After multiple hundred years of slavery, we primarily started doubting our system, which has actually reach for select few.
      Every one before jumping into conclusion, must realise, we need to research extensively for life span duration.
      I am not for or against any practice. But refrain from any unsubstantiated bias statement.

      Now, as far as my experience goes, Once I have been to AOL ashram in 2007 for 15, days. Only practiced Yoga, meditation and discipline. When I was back the whole world around me told me about visible radiance.Most didn’t know where I was.

      I was internally feeling uplifted. That’s another thing.

      Difficult part is, it is not easy to continue… So easy to criticise.

      • The decline of Ayurveda started much before the Western invasion, it happened due to opposition from within. Read Taittiriya Sanhita vi.4.9 and you will know.
        And benefits of any method of treatment, Indian or otherwise can be tested and proved. And such tests are being done, but without much success to prove.

  • Mr. Srinivas,

    If not in this geographic region, I would like to know where did yoga originate from?
    Secondly , your reads and research papers published in pub med, nature and science journals could exist , but as rightly said by another member, we are probably using the wrong yard stick to measure its effects. I believe that unlike allopathy, I feel yoga can never be seen, measured or judged in isolation as it is part of an entire system of lifestyle which of course no more exists in complete purity. Probably we got to see yoga as as a defender of the body rather than a attacker of the disease which is what allopathy does. To put it much more simple terms, i feel yoga has to be seen parallel to gymming and exercising rather than as a medicine by itself.

    Regards,
    Praveen

    • Yoga did originate in India, but it had nothing much to do with Vedas or gods or OM. Yoga is not exercise and not even parallel to gymnastics or exercise. The fake yoga that is now being trumpeted is not yoga, but gymnastics repackaged as yoga. And gymnastics do not cure any illness.

      • just mentioned that because I live in Cleveland . Yes it is the number one hospital in the world in heart surgery. but I apologize since evidence by going to an authority is weak. What is weaker is this strawman fight between Science and Hinduism as an Atheist I see subliminal Christianity here promoting the falsity of the possibility of mind effecting body as that dualism is the basis for Judeo Christianity and British empiricism of Locke and Bertrand Russell that emerges from this tradition.

        • There is no subliminal Christianity or a strawman fight against Hinduism. You are just imagining it. This is just people who understand science, arguing with people who don’t.

          What is so horrible about Locke and Russell anyway? You are saying the philosophy of the guy who wrote: “Why I am not a Christian”… is subliminally Christian? :-). That is hilarious.

          Locke and Russell are far more clear-headed than Husserl and Heidegger. Russell is a dualist? That’s news to me. Modern Science does not accept Locke’s philosophy of mind. Chomskyian Linguistics explicitly rejects Tabula Rasa.

  • If any adverse effects are observed due to any medical treatment or procedure, such events must be reported, and such reports will lead to further studies and improvement or abandonment of such practices. That is evidence based medicine. And the same must apply to the so called yoga.
    Most studies on yoga have NOT reported on adverse effects and most reviews and meta analyses have highlighted this problem with yoga research.
    Let research on yoga continue, let their methodology improve to perfection and let the benefits be proved. Until then, No, Yoga Does Not Cure Any Disease.

  • ‘Apart from its spiritual philosophy!!’ Somewhere this line on top highly demands to be clarified if yoga has its spiritual aspect or no!!?

  • Yoga is made of eight accessories. It is difficult for humans to practice eight accessories of Yoga. prananyam and asanas are only two parts of the system. That is why the ancient wise men left Yoga and believe in meditation and vidantak system of the six Darshans. The basic thing is mind in control and in peace which is not possible in Yoga.Moreover yoga ask for oxidation of diseased part of body.when you produce energy for oxidation the free radicals increase in the body and for that Yoga has no remedy. the yoga is against nature system. God has given us natural methods of exercise and why we adopt artificial man made methods of body exercise. The breath practice which is lom volm or control of breath by stopping breath eira, pigla and sukhmana naris is unnatural and unethical.

    • Please enlighten us on how and where these studies ‘prove’ the efficacy of yoga in curing any disease.
      Now also look at the two papers that I have cited. Tells, the author of the papers that you have cited, is a co author in both these papers. And these are the conclusions (of the author that you have cited):

      Yet another review by Büssing A et al(2012) concluded thus: collectively, the available reviews suggest a number of areas where yoga may well be beneficial, but more research is required for virtually all of them to firmly establish such benefits; yoga cannot yet be a proven stand-alone, curative treatment; larger-scale and more rigorous research with higher methodological quality and adequate control interventions is highly encouraged. [Büssing A et al, 2012]

      The authors concluded that biomarker and neuroimaging studies, those comparing yoga with standard pharmaco- and psychotherapies, and studies of long-term efficacy are needed to fully translate the promise of yoga for enhancing mental health.[Balasubramaniam M, 2013]

      When the authors are unsure, why should we be so sure?

      • Yoga is for prevention of any disease. But when yoga is de-linked from OM, it becomes just another exercise.

          • obviously – you do not know the full purpose of yoga.

            1. Physical
            2. Breathing
            3. Long Meditation – for Moksha or Short meditation for temporary physical effects – This is where Sanskrit “OM” comes in.

            Only Hindu/vedic Sanskrit “OM” with 7.83 Hz vibratory frequency can take you to the final frontier of matter. Beyond it is (fourth state of consciousness or pure consciousness or divine). Pure consciousness cannot be measured. Allah, Amen or ShalOM DON’T HAVE the same vibratory frequency like Hindu/vedic Sanskrit OM.

            It is well validated by science. Ever heard of Schumann resonance? Resonances of earth, ie, 7.83, 14, 20, 26, 33, 39 and 45 Hertz of earth. 7.83 hz being the strongest of all, OM or Schumann frequency.

            HINDU SANSKRIT MANTRAS WITH FREQUENCIES OR RESONANCES
            SIMILAR TO MATTER

            Ohm- 7.83 Hz
            Gam – 14 Hz
            Hleem – 20 Hz
            Hreem – 26 Hz
            Kleem – 33 Hz
            Krowm – 39 Hz
            Sreem – 45 Hz

            Transcendental Meditation (TM) (also part of Yoga) with Sanskrit vibratory Mantras can take us all the way to “Samadhi” level. But when it is done short time there is significant physical effects. eg Reduction in BP. American heart association recommends TM as Non Pharmacological therapy for reduction and prevention of BP.

            Rig Veda DOES NOT have some mumbo-jumbo Hymns and Mantras. Rig Veda has the complete blue print of the universe. Frequencies of vibrations generated by sanskrit hymns and mantras are similar to frequencies of vibrations generated by sub-atomic particles (bosons and fermions). Quantum physicists acknowledge that so called modern science is yet to catch up since it has so far discovered few sub atomic particles.

          • @Bharat

            In the frequency sequence “Ohm- 7.83 Hz, Gam – 14 Hz, Hleem – 20 Hz, Hreem – 26 Hz, Kleem – 33 Hz, Krowm – 39 Hz, Sreem – 45 Hz” the last entry, Clown – 51 Hz, seems to have been left out inadvertently. Perhaps it could be added to the list for completeness.

  • Yoga has helped me to relax a bit. Also control my back pain problems.Physiotherapy also like yoga for that matter.
    Under yoga i took accupressure treatment for my triger finger which was prescribed a surgery and i got better in a month

    • The best studies on the role of yoga in cancer have been reviewed in the papers quoted above. Please read again.

  • Why all this argument?
    Yoga is a form of stretching exercise which an be done alone without much equipment. Thats all. There r definite benefits as far as mobility is concerned, just like any warm up exercise schedule. That shud be all.
    No reason to relate religion to yoga.
    No way that it can cur systemic diseases, ,, definitely may benefit in some painful musculoskeletal disorders. But to believe it helps your lungs, kidney, digestion, is just crap. Why did someone even study it?
    Surprising, u must notice that Narendra Modi is not promoting it for disease control, nor have I have seen him promote ayurveda, unani, homeopathy etc,,, on the contrary, Arvind Kejriwal, an IIT student is senfing very wrong signals, by trying to send diabetics for naturopathy

  • Whether yoga is theistic or atheistic is beside the point. Hinduism supports both theism and atheism, and yoga is a Hindu tradition.
    The real issue is one of wellness vs. illness. Allopaths, big pharma companies and the western scientific establishment that is funded by big pharma, is largely focused on illness (and rightly so).
    It is clear that since you are an “illness practitioner”, you see things from a different perspective. You are in the business of chronic disease management as a diabetes specialist, so the sample set of your work experience necessarily involves dealing with ill people who have a progressive illness. Wellness is not a condition that you are familiar with, after all why would anyone come to see you and pay for your services when they are well? Don’t get me wrong, what allopaths do is crucially important. But even more important is wellness and prevention.
    I work in the field of wellness. I have helped people stop and reverse pre-diabetes and diabetes (Type 2), using wellness practices, including yoga. I have found that those who are positive towards yoga and willing to practice it regularly are much more likely to make lifestyle changes that will reverse diabetes and will lower their odds of CVD and stroke and other immune illnesses. This is what we call a second order benefit. It is much more powerful than a superficial first order benefit (treating a symptom), but much harder to devise a trial to measure it. It is also subject to superficial shoot-downs, such as “Did you also change your diet?” or “Did you also quit smoking?”
    “Yes doctor, yoga altered my brain and enabled me to follow a healthier life style.”
    “Aha!” says the rationalist allopath. “It wasn’t yoga that cured you, but changing your diet!”
    Wellness is the state of affairs in the human condition that occurs when there is no illness! It is extremely difficult to diagnose wellness and its various states, mainly because wellness has many non-specific symptoms!
    Yoga is a wellness practice. It hugely improves wellness, which is the main reason why millions of people flock to it the world over, and indulge in it repeatedly, despite the physical and time commitment. I daresay that the vast majority of your allopath colleagues also agree that yoga improves wellness.
    Further, the practice of yoga itself is not mere physical calisthenics, any more than allopathy is not merely writing a metformin or antibiotic prescription. Physical calisthenics are an important part of yoga, but they are the first step towards higher spiritual practices that open the window towards an exploration and understanding of our higher self. This understanding is only possible through spiritual practice that slowly unlocks doors to ever higher levels. In the same way that a mathematical paper written on graph theory would be incomprehensible to someone who does not even know algebra, an explanation of higher experiential states of consciousness would be incomprehensible to a “rationalist” whose mind is so closed that they do not want to understand the concept of wellness.
    Science is a process of discovery. Just because you find existing proofs insufficient, existing methods of measurement inadequate, or certain practitioners prone to hyperbole, does not mean that the hypothesis is invalidated. It is also possible that your method of exploration is itself flawed and inadequate, or your ability to comprehend is itself limited. Besides, what are you trying to achieve anyway? That everyone who is pre-diabetic should come to you to get treated with metformin, insulin and finally dialysis?
    You have claimed, looking at some your responses to comments, “what is being promoted is not yoga”. This means that you believe yoga is actually good, but you are disillusioned with the existing popular practices of it. If this is the case, writing a takedown of yoga itself (as opposed to the popularly promoted versions that you actually oppose), is not only a straw-man argument, it shows a lack of internal consistency in your views.
    I find it extraordinary that someone went to the extent of compiling a 6000 word article against yoga, with 51 citations of why yoga is no good and even harmful! Just looking at your last paragraph “Safety of Yoga”, where you claim “yoga, as is being promoted today, is not safe either”, it appears that you have lost all sense of perspective in trying to support a pre-determined conclusion. So is yoga more or less safe than, say, crossing the road? Is yoga more or less safe, statistically, than taking a two-wheeler to go to a doctor’s appointment? Is it more or less safe than a diet of Maggi noodles?
    You, sir, are guilty of the same hyperbole that you accuse some yoga supporters of employing.

    • For your information, I manage my patients of diabetes, obesity etc., with dietary regimen alone, no yoga, not much exercise either. So your points on my medical practice are wrong.

      >>This means that you actually believe that yoga is good – this is your own assumption.

      And most studies on yoga have not mentioned about the injuries or other safety issues, and most reviews have highlighted this problem.

      • but there is enough research done on TM’s (Transcendental meditation is also part of Yoga) effect on various conditions.

        The National Institutes of Health in the USA have to date granted over $24 million to study the effect of Transcendental Meditation for the prevention and treatment of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.

        This research has so far reported: SUMMARY

        1. Reduced risk factors for hypertension, diabetes, and obesity (American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine)
        2. Increased lifespan (American Journal of Cardiology)
        Reduced thickening of coronary arteries (American Heart Association’s Stroke)
        3. Reduced blood pressure in comparison with other procedures (Ethnicity & Disease)
        4. Reduced heart failure (Ethnicity & Disease)
        5.Reduced use of hypertensive medication (American Journal of Hypertension)
        6. Improved brain response to stress and pain (NeuroReport)

        RESEARCH PAPERS PUBLISHED IN REPUTED JOURNALS (I’ve just mentioned 2 TO 3 research papers for each condition and development to keep it short)

        1. Improved Intelligence, Creativity and Learning Ability

        a. So K.T. and Orme-Johnson D.W. Three randomized experiments on the longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on cognition. Intelligence 29: 419-440, 2001.

        b.Cranson R.W., et al. Transcendental Meditation and improved performance on intelligence-related measures: A longitudinal study. Personality and Individual Differences 12: 1105-1116, 1991.

        2. PAIN REDUCTION

        A. Orme-Johnson D.W, et al. Neuroimaging of meditation’s effect on brain reactivity to pain. NeuroReport 17(12):1359-63, 2006. Full article

        B. Mills W. W. and Farrow J. T. The Transcendental Meditation technique and acute experimental pain. Psychosomatic Medicine 43(2): 157–164, 1981.

        C. Zammara J. W., et al. Usefulness of the Transcendental Meditation program in the treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. American Journal of Cardiology, 77, 867-870, et al.

        3. REDUCED CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE

        A. Jyadevappa R., et al. Effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation on functional capacity and quality of life of African Americans with congestive heart failure: a randomized control study. Ethnicity and Disease 17: 72-77, 2007

        B. Alexander C. N., et al. The effects of Transcendental Meditation compared to other methods of relaxation in reducing risk factors, morbidity, and mortality. Homeostasis 35, 243-264, 1994.

        C. Schneider R.H., et al. Long-term effects of stress reduction on mortality in persons > 55 years of age with systemic hypertension. American Journal of Cardiology 95: 1060-1064, 2005. Full article

        4. REDUCTION OF CHOLESTEROL

        a. Cooper M. J., et al. Transcendental Meditation in the management of hypercholesterolemia. Journal of Human Stress 5(4): 24–27, 1979.

        b. Cooper M. J. and Aygen M. M. Effect of Transcendental Meditation on serum cholesterol and blood pressure. Harefuah, Journal of the Israel Medical Association 95(1): 1-2, 1978.

        5. REDUCTION OF STRESS

        Barnes V. A., et al. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular function at rest and during acute stress in adolescents with high normal blood pressure. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 51, 597-605, 2001.

        Gaylord C., et al. The effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique and progressive muscle relaxation on EEG coherence, stress reactivity, and mental health in black adults. International Journal of Neuroscience 46: 77-86, 1989.

        Jevning R., et al. The transcendental meditation technique, adrenocortical activity, and implications for stress. Experientia 34(5):618-9, May 15, 1978.

        5. REDUCTION OF BP

        Rainforth M.V., et al. Stress reduction programs in patients with elevated blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Hypertension Reports 9:520–528, 2007.

        Anderson J.W., et al. Blood pressure response to Transcendental Meditation: a meta-analysis. American Journal of Hypertension 21 (3): 310-6, 2008.

        6. DECREASED DEPRESSION, INSOMNIA AND ANXIETY

        Brooks J.S., et al. Transcendental Meditation in the treatment of post-Vietnam adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development, 64:212–215, 1985.

        Alexander C.N., et al. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on stress reduction, health, and employee development: A prospective study in two occupational settings. Anxiety, Stress and Coping: An International Journal 6: 245-262, 1993.

        Dillbeck M.C. The effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique on anxiety level. Journal of Clinical Psychology 33: 1076-1078, 1977.

        Orme-Johnson D. W., et al. Meditation in the treatment of chronic pain and insomnia. In National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment Conference on Integration of Behavioral and Relaxation Approaches into the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Insomnia, Bethesda Maryland: National Institutes of Health, 1995.

        7. HIGHER LEVELS OF BRAIN FUNCTIONING

        Arenander A. and Travis F.T. Brain patterns of Self-awareness. In B Beitman and J Nair, Eds. Self-Awareness Deficits. New York: W.W.Norton, 2004.

        Hebert R., et al. Enhanced EEG alpha time-domain phase synchrony during Transcendental Meditation: Implications for cortical integration theory. Signal Processing, 85(11): 2213-2232, 2005.

        Mason L. I., et al. Electrophysiological correlates of higher states of consciousness during sleep in long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation program. Sleep 20 (2): 102-110, 1997.

        Travis F. Patterns of EEG coherence, power, and contingent negative variation characterize the integration of transcendental and waking states. Biological Psychology 61: 293-319, 2002.

      • “I manage my patients of diabetes, obesity etc., with dietary regimen alone, no yoga, not much exercise either.”
        Thank you for clarifying. So basically you are either opposed to the concept of exercise, or are oblivious to its benefits. That makes your stand on yoga much clearer. As for your views on yoga causing injuries, I think most health practitioners would agree that on the contrary, people who do yoga are far less likely to get injured in the course of their life than people who do not do yoga.

          • Satish, When something is enclosed in quotes, like this ” “, in this case, it means I am quoting someone’s words verbatim.
            Dr. Srinivas is perfectly capable of responding to my genuine surprise at why he does not use routinely use exercise as a therapy,to complement his diet advice to his patients.
            We are trying to have a serious discussion here. If you have something constructive to add to the exchange that I am having with him, please do join the debate.

          • Ravi,

            I’m calling you out for what you are – someone who spouts garbage like “higher experiential states of consciousness” and tries to score cheap rhetorical points with “you are either this or that” when it is clear that it is neither.

          • Satish, in fact what you are “calling out” is merely your own lack of awareness of the vast field of neuroscience/consciousness, and perhaps a lack of intellectual and spiritual capacity to understand it. That is fine, many people lead perfectly normal lives without capacity in many fields, or even a sense of curiosity.
            However, it is worth getting a head start on an important lesson that you will hopefully learn as you get older – The more the strength of one’s conviction, the greater the ignorance. All the best to you.

    • I am curious. You said you work in the field of “wellness”. Who credentialed you? What is your training in health or even just life sciences? Actually, do you have ANY training in the sciences?… at all? All I can pull up on you is a BA. You seem to have written a book on Microbiology, not a scholarly one, but one for regular people; in which you seen to make some broad statements of critique on the practice of medicine. What is your training in Microbiology exactly?

      If you are just a self-styled guru promising alternative health to people, I can see how you would be biased against how mainstream scientific medicine is approached.

      I am quoting you: “a mathematical paper written on graph theory would be incomprehensible to someone who does not even know algebra,”. So what exactly is your corresponding algebra training in understanding clinical research such that you actually think you can critique it or that makes you qualified to judge the general epistemology of science?

  • Dear Dr. Srinivas
    I find you have done some good scanning of lot of Journals. Now have practiced Yoga for 3 years (later had to give up due to fatal accident) I have following experience to share. (of course you will not find it in Journals)
    1. Yoga has two parts Aasana (physical exercises) and Meditation/Mantra recitation. I learnt both at Foundation course run in Parmarth Niketan Rishikesh, after I came to know I had severe diabetes, Blood pressure and Thyroid problem at age of 36 yrs.
    2. In first 3 months of practice (twice a day for 1.5 hours each – including both Aasna and Mantra recitation) I was continuously getting my self checked for Sugar level and TSH, and both completely cured. I continuously reduced and finally stopped all medicines (Glimstar PM2 and Altroxin). But even after 1 year all test results were normal.
    I continued the regime of Yoga for 3 years felt energetic, light (reduced almost all unnecessary fat) and clear headed.

    3. Three years later I had massive accident and was bed ridden for 3 months. All tests were OK at that time, but Docs advised NO RIGROUS exercises.
    I left AASNA part and continued with Mantra Part. Now I gained weight in 2 years’ time, have mid thyroid (50mcg altoxin I take) and Sugar level is under control without medicine, but it shoots up a bit immediately after taking food. My blood pressure is always under control without any medicine.

    (all these tests and medication is under my doctor friend)

    As you and all others reading your blog can see from my case,
    A. Yoga is not about PHYSICAL EXCERCISES ALONE. If one feels YOGA is physical exercise then its as good as Swimming/Gymnastics/any sport which involves running/chasing. SO NO NEED TO PERFORM YOGA. Unless YOGA is combined with meditation/Pranayam/Mantra Chant it will only give benefit of exercises but not “CURE” something serious.

    B. It needs TIME(everyday 2-3 hrs) which people can ill afford / or are not interested (except Film stars who get paid for maintaining fitness) and also PATIENCE as one has to practice it for years on daily basis to derive the benefit.

    C. As my case also highlights if you leave YOGA partially or totally, you will “RELAPSE” back to previous state (depending on how much you left).

    D. Can I “RECLAIM” good health status after starting Yoga again? I think having myself experienced this it can be done. Only issue remains is “ENERGY LEVEL” which is bound to go down with age.

    So there are no reason to Doubt that “YOGA performed for long term with all aspects can cure lifestyle related diseases”. However ARE WE READY TO ACCEPT SUCH RIGOUROUS LIFESTYLE (Or take simple route of gulp one pill for one problem?)

    E. Last but not the least Drs. (including yourself) have genuine cause for concern (and some of the Journals have same issue) as they will be without much work if most of humanity practice YOGA. So there is vested interest in “PROMOTING” that YOGA IS OF NO HELP.

    But I don’t see that threat coming soon, as we are too Lazy people to……..
    Regards…Pankaj Prasad

    • Certainly not; yoga (not a system of medicine or treatment) or any alternative systems of medicine can never be a cause of concern for any practitioner of evidence based medicine. If at all, it must be a cause of worry for the gullible patients who get cheated everyday by their tall claims.

  • Yoga = coordinated breathing augmented with physical stretches and mental focus. How could you not love it?
    Your citations are based on modern scientific findings. Have you gone back to the upanishads and attempted to study the ancient science with the same rigor? If so, cite them..

  • There is news from todays indian express. Kindly read.
    61 Year Old Doctor Dies While Practicing Yoga in Hyderabad
    By Express News Service Published: 21st June 2015 01:09 PM Last Updated: 21st June 2015 01:15 PME

    HYDERABAD: International Yoga day is turned fatal among a retired Ayurveda doctor in Hyderabad today. A 61-year-old retired Ayurveda doctor is dead while practicing yoga as part of International yoga day after complaining chest pain.

    The deceased is identified as Ch Veera Reddy, resident of Sahara Estate locality in Vanasthalipuram police limits in Cyberabad limits.

    The colony association conducted a yoga programme as part of International yoga day at Shara Estate colony in Vanasthalipuram today. More than 100 residents are participated in the programme among the retired doctor Veera Reddy.

    Suddenly, Veera Reddy collapsed on the ground while practicing yoga. Participants noticed Reddy and shifted to nearby hospital where doctors declared him brought dead. The Vanasthalpuram Sub Inspector S Devender said that he did not receive any complaint from the family members of Reddy in connection with the incident. He said that the doctors who examined Reddy stated that it is natural death and Reddy died due to heart attack.

  • Firstly it’s impressive to see that you have cited about 51 scholarly works to repudiate the authenticity of yoga which you have concluded as a lie. I’m clapping for you on that. You may be right to claim that there may be a lot of gray area with regards to studies which relates to the tangibility of yoga in curing diseases. I guess our so called ‘feeble minded’ ancestors did not realize that they needed such ‘data collections’, ‘theoretical framework’, ‘methodologies’ and tangible evidences so that it will enable some parties to patent Yoga immediately? And I’m sure we Indians are fashionably famous for giving up our heritage right? Theoretical frameworks and methodology may not be applicable to a certain field of study especially yoga which is too vast to be comprehended within the realms of humanity. But anyway based on your ‘thousands’ of literary analyses in an attempt to repudiate the effectiveness of yoga, it would also be less scholarly and distasteful to claim that something is a lie just because your ‘thousands’ of study does not prove your claims with regards to this. Somehow, I do believe that your research will encourage many scholars to do more findings to prove that yoga does cure diseases and I’m pretty sure you will be more than happy if that happens..In the event, I suggest before any tangible claim is made to prove that Yoga practice is a lie I guess you may want to hold your horses a bit because even the greatest of minds could not infer everything within a lifetime..Please have a nice day Mr.Kakkilaya 

      • Now,Mr Kakkilaya..what are u exactly defending now? The efficacy of heritage yoga vs. the inefficacy of modern yoga or your are condemning the practice of ANY kind of yoga as useless? either way…telling that its a lie is something that needs more research..You will appear too righteous if u mean the latter..

    • What exactly is your point? If you are questioning the author’s methodology, please point out exactly what is wrong with his methodology and thus also his findings.

      Or am I right in understanding that you are just upset that the author doesn’t seem to be singing the praises of yogo – and this upsets your ideology (not your science)?

      If one gets emotional about these things then objectiveness goes out of the door.

      • I’m saying that using ‘Lie’as a premise to conclude the research is not justified..Just because we have not come to an understanding about something that doesn’t mean its a lie..that’s what I meant.

  • For 13y I had sinus problem .I consulted most famous doctors in india for 13 y, but they did not cured it.They were only able to control with continuous medicine. They were not even able to cure even sinus. But after doing yoga(breathing exercise) and acupuncture, I am perfectly all right for past 5 years.

  • I see that some people have descended to defend what they see as “ancient this”, “ancient that” and so on. A rhetorical question for these defenders of all things ancient – what was the life expectancy in ancient times?

  • Good piece. Disappointed with all the comments from yoga practitioners and sympathizes. People seem to think that yoga is some form of excercise. It is sure is if the alternative is to sit in a couch. But a brisk walk (run or bike ride is better) in the park seem to me to be a better alternative to sitting in a spot and twisting and turning oneself into a knot.

    • It may seem so to you, but the very quoted publications on this thread indicate yoga may be as effective as brisk walking or running as a form of exercise.

  • PLACEBO
    =======
    “Yet, after 100 years of studies that churned out more than 3000 papers, the proponents of ‘yoga therapy have failed to find any conclusive evidence for the efficacy of yoga in treating any illness. They have not even been successful in standardizing the so called yoga therapy”

  • Good article. The central message in the entire article is being missed by most commentators. It is not about saying Yoga is good or bad. It is about the fact that there isn’t enough scientific literature to back it. Maybe a line saying that comments with evidences and references are welcome could help.

    • Not really coz the writer eventually mentions that BECAUSE there isn’t enough scientific literature to back it up he concludes that YOGA IS A LIE! read again..

  • One of the comments here raised the question “Do any of the diseases you mentioned have a permanent cure by using evidence based medication?”

    Are there any good examples to answer ‘YES’ to this question?

    • I have a different, better question – does evidence based medicine claim to cure something without evidence?

      • No, it doesn’t.
        There are a class of diseases that evidence based medicine does permanently cure, for example some type of infectious diseases. But, going through the list of diseases mentioned here, I would like to know if there are examples of cure for them.
        If the answer to that question is ‘no’, does that mean these are a class of diseases that by nature can’t be permanently cured once we have them? So all that can be done is ‘managing’ them, like slowing their progress, reducing pain, etc. ?
        If that is the case, the effectiveness of any treatment to these diseases has to be measured not by checking if it permanently cures them, but by some other criteria like prevention, delaying the disease (e.g.: it is good if hypertension can be delayed to 50’s instead of 40’s) or long term slow improvements.
        These very characteristics (prevention, delaying and long term slow improvements) demand long term high sample size studies. The general conclusion from most of these studies: “looks ok, but further studies are needed” is what one would expect from them.

        • You guys too deeply ossified in the western paradigm of philosophy that seeks being qua being as Husserl and Heideggar but due to your Judeo christian Moslem ethos you will deny cognitive import to experience
          .my greatest regret is that being born and raised in India i was deprived of this magnificent art of yoga.yes I am a marxist ala Horkheimer Adorno and Lukacs but at age sixty I have realized the the quest for being is related to experience, this farcical lying through statistics is due to the abrahamic paradigm. As a jock I know how how yoga has helped me raise top tennis players. Ah yes Kareem Abdul Jabbar played till age 32 and credits his longevity to yoga and he is a Moslem Thegreatest bakretball player Lebron James plays more minutes then anyone.guess what credits that to Yoga. You guys are stuck in the time warp of mechanistin 19th century philosophy of science where the stillness or the turbulence of the mind are the same how many of u armchair atheists have faced pressure of Athletics , how may of you have trained your mind how many of you know how to get in and out of a zone in sports or life. Matter and energy are one.when my students are limber in mind body and spirit they are contented amp are candidates for peak performance. Modi maybe using yoga as propaganda but yoga is real. By the way did you ever protest the real lies of euro education that promulgate the mytth that PYthagoras invented the theorem, that Newton magically came up with calculus.
          Ah yes more yoga adherents world number one Djokovic, Murray Federe, Shaqeel o neil

          Somehow I consider their opinion to be higher then yours
          Validation through experience beats Ockham’s razor that assumes current fad to be the universal truth
          Thanks for real atheists like Kapil Gautama and Karl Marx
          Suing no to Diderot , Hitcins and some of the anachronistic christian atheists
          Incidentally ten years ago I would have supported you but then heideggar and Hegel took me to
          pathanajli’s yoga and Kapila’s Samkhya.
          Ah yes I am only a jock
          Go Cleveland Cavsliers win the championship next year led by a yogi Lebron James

          • > this farcical lying through statistics is due to the abrahamic paradigm.

            Using statistics and doing hypothesis testing is about as far from the Abrahamic paradigm as possible. How could you even connect the two? Tell me, what is the most complex statistical test that you can understand?

            > You guys are stuck in the time warp of mechanistin 19th century philosophy of science where the stillness or the turbulence of the mind are the same

            What does that even mean?

            > Somehow I consider their opinion to be higher then yours

            Perhaps because you value celebrity testimonies more than hard data and quantitative analysis?

            > Validation through experience beats Ockham’s razor that assumes current fad to be the universal truth

            Since you like throwing around philosophy, perhaps you should start with Novum Organum by Francis Bacon. It the one from 1620. Your ideas are stuck in the period from before that.

            Occam’s razor isn’t what you think it is.

          • Here’s an article that among other things points out that when you are given gifted athletes, you can put them through any faddish fitness program and still get the desired results. So name dropping a few athletes who do yoga (along with their usual strength training and other conditioning) shows nothing. To justify all the hype you’ve given, you actually need to demonstrate that without yoga an athlete can’t reach their full potential.

          • Please enlighten me on Ockham.
            These athletes are not celebraties like movie stars who gain fame because of their daddy. These are athletes who have given their all to excel and will not leave any stone unturned. Doing experiments with defined parameters of the subject as being a universal object where the subject cannot effect any outcome is a false premise to begin with. I can cite you research that favors yoga but tat is disingenuous as well

          • @arun jetli

            > Please enlighten me on Ockham.

            It just means, don’t build Rube Goldberg machines when a direct connection will do. It means don’t get too clever. It’s the KISS principle of theory building: Keep It Simple Stupid. The principle of parsimony. Just see the Wikipedia article on the topic. That’s a great start from where you are.

            > These athletes are not celebraties like movie stars who gain fame because of their daddy. These are athletes who have given their all to excel and will not leave any stone unturned.

            You are shifting the accusation from you to the poor kids. No one said they had rich daddies. No one said they aren’t training hard. What is being said is that it isn’t the magic of the coaches and their eccentric methods that make the difference.

            Can you deny that these are NOT ordinary kids? Don’t you agree that they were gifted to begin with? If we take a random sample (of adequate size – which will depend on the variance in performance) of regular kids (not specially recruited), split them randomly into two groups, send them to two identical training programs, one with Yoga and one that uses regular, modern training of similar load in those hours, can you demonstrate that the Yoga kids will perform better (statistically significant difference)? If you can, take the help of a statistician, apply for a grant, study and publish. Tell us what the effect size is.

            Anyway, see the article above that Satish linked and say what problems you have with it.

            > Doing experiments with defined parameters of the subject as being a universal object where the subject cannot effect any outcome is a false premise to begin with.

            Who said experimentation uses this premise? You are setting up a clear strawman. This is why I keep repeating myself. Read about Probability. These are basic, basic things addressed by modern research. Your unawareness of these shows that you do not understand the basics of how and why science is done the way it is. It is based on the facts of math, not opinion. Do you actually think you are the only one to have the wisdom to identify such problems?

            Why do you think some research studies demand large samples, while others don’t? What do you think statistically significant means? Do you understand the difference between a dependent variable vs. an independent variable. These are things you learn in inferential statistics 101.

            > I can cite you research that favors yoga but tat is disingenuous as well

            Don’t bother. You aren’t competent enough to understand research papers. You will just do a Google search for titles and paste. We all can do that ourselves. First, understand why people do meta-analyses. Then you will understand why what the author wrote is pretty non-controversial and hardly a mere subjective opinion.

  • This is high time one calls the bluff of Yoga.

    That is no more than a primitive type of isotonic exercises and relaxation techniques woven together.

    All of the associated hype is business, religion and politics brewed with middle class hypocrisy and attention seeking.

  • Amazed at the thorough search of available evidences about Yoga as a treatment intervention.
    Astonished at the barrage of comments in favour of Yoga but all are missing the point.

    • The epistemological point is whether the mind and body are potentially one.
      Your Abrahamic dualism masqueraded sad atheism cannot get over the fact of thus unity of mind and body.
      Find me one athlete who does not believe in trying the mind and believing in the philosophy of mind over matter in adverse conditions. I suggest you take up a sport that will involve your whole being , that will involve total blanking of your mind, total tyaga and then come back with an answer.is experience irrelevant or the summon bonum.
      This sir is the point it is also the point that the weakness of greek philosophy post Plato is that it has lived in the dualistic world where the sellf is a Kantian noumena having nothing to do with the phenomenal worl Sir go ahead live in that Abstract Greo Cristian world thankfully none of the athletes I know live through this absurd dualism

      • > The epistemological point is whether the mind and body are potentially one.

        That debate was philosophically settled a long, long time ago. No modern educated person thinks there is mind body dualism any more. The BIG QUESTION is: when you are finally going to realize that there is no body soul/spirit dualism either.

        > Your Abrahamic dualism masqueraded sad atheism cannot get over the fact of thus unity of mind and body.

        Er… name one atheist or rationalist, western or eastern, who thinks that mind or body are separate things. All scientifically educated people understand that the mind is simply the expression of the neuronal apparatus and not a separate entity, as our pre-science ancestors held. Its the non-rationalists that have this problem.

        > Find me one athlete who does not believe in trying the mind and believing in the philosophy of mind over matter in adverse conditions.

        Athletes don’t do “philosophy of mind”, philosophers do. You are just trying to sound intellectual than you really are. Perhaps, you meant to say, mind over matter – it does make a difference. The technical term for that in clinical trial conditions is placebo effect, which is quite well studied.

        > I suggest you take up a sport that will involve your whole being , that will involve total blanking of your mind, total tyaga and then come back with an answer.is experience irrelevant or the summon bonum.

        I trained in Korean martial arts, the practitioners of which sometimes make similar claims as Yoga proponents. The mystical mind stuff is total nonsense there as well. Works only in movies. The people who excel are always those that have good genetics, practiced hard and have good cardio and strength training.

        Here is a reality a demo of what happens when mumbo-jumbo meets reality.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd7M4H0b62k
        The first part of video is an analogue to how Yoga looks in the minds of its mystical proponents. The second part shows the cold hard reality when subjected to a critical test.

        > This sir is the point it is also the point that the weakness of greek philosophy post Plato is that it has lived in the dualistic world where the sellf is a Kantian noumena having nothing to do with the phenomenal worl Sir go ahead live in that Abstract Greo Cristian world thankfully none of the athletes I know live through this absurd dualism

        That is the most pretentious nonsense I heard in this whole forum. Dualism, as it influenced natural philosophy, the pre-cursor to modern scientific discipline, was mainly from Cartesian dualism, not Hellenistic philosophy.

        Modern science had long out-grown its philosophical roots. Modern scientists today even scoff at what passed for philosophy in the past, even though everyone acknowledges the roots. Metaphysics has a very poor reputation now. If you invoke philosophy in a science meeting, you will only get giggles (rightly so)… I know because I tried in my student days :-).

        Anyway, you need a better understanding of human intellectual history, history of science and philosophy of science… if you want to throw around terms from them. You have a rather distorted view of it. No rationalist has loyalties to western philosophical traditions, much less Judeo Christian whatever. We understand them in quite critical light. And most of all, we rationalists dislike “abstract worlds”. We want to understand the world as a straight-forward, but complex *concrete* structure. Its Ontology that thrives now, not philosophy.

        • >> Modern science had long out-grown its philosophical roots. Modern scientists today even scoff at what passed for philosophy in the past, even though everyone acknowledges the roots. If you invoke philosophy in a science meeting, you will only get giggles (rightly so)

          “Scientists sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard, objective triumphs of science, and that they themselves are immune to the confusions that philosophers devote their lives to dissolving. But there is no such thing as philosophy-free science, there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.” – Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

          • This I can agree with.

            Its just that philosophers for a while, left to their own devices, have gone too far before… further than where the strength of their ideas can reasonably carry them. Some bold idea making must always be followed by empiricism so that the ideas are then critically tethered to reality. Otherwise, we fall prey once again to Aristotelian errors.

            I had been a proponent of doing more philosophy (more adventurous model making in science terms), ahead of study design, in my training days. However the cautions offered to me by my mentors were also reasonable. They had all read philosophers. None of the good scientists I know are ignorant of philosophy. They are just very cautious about invoking it because it is so easy to drive off the cliff in the name of philosophy.

            Modern philosophers are quite different. They are far more rigorous than their intellectual ancestors and the same criticism cannot be levied on them as they have evolved.

            “Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement.”
            ― Will Durant

            Philosophy, as the early incubator of ideas is fine. After that it must let go, as Durant elsewhere put it, as a mother parts with the child.

  • Maintaining physical & mental fitness must become a ritual for all hectic lives, either u call Yoga, Gym, aerobic , there is no harm, let them take it to next level saying curing special illness etc has to be proved by self experience. Those who practice yoga for longer periods have felt a difference in many ways …..

  • I am a non-medico, but I know that statistics can be used to prove and disprove anything. So I don’t credit numbers with any absolute value OVER AND ABOVE what I would credit the number gatherer and calculator. Now:

    If hordes of patients are cured of their discomfort by practicing Yoga, will that not create a bias AGAINST yoga in those whose entire livelihood depends upon hapless patients?
    I believe that this article and its citations clearly show a “loss of income” bias – wherever there are positive results cited, the author demeans them by writing some more English and wherever there are negative results they are touted without any qualifiers.

    Regardless of the psychological mumbo-jumbo (cognate bias, etc.) if lakhs of people DO FIND RELIEF (this is a fact) I would still prefer the benefits rather than “stamping a psychological name” on them to pooh-pooh them.

    does the “scientific temper” tell you to ignore these observations and still base conclusions of “inconclusivity” on studies which have not been “adequately done” or does the scientific temper demand to look for a cause.
    If believing in Yoga gives relief to people, then shouldn’t you out of “patient interest concerns” try to get MORE PEOPLE to believe in yoga?

    • Please go through each and every review (see the list of references), and each and every paper cited in these reviews, and then come to your own conclusions. If you happen to to find ONE study that satisfies you regarding the efficacy of yoga to cure, prevent or significantly alleviate ANY illness, please cite it here. We shall discuss that paper.

    • > I am a non-medico, but I know that statistics can be used to prove and disprove anything.

      You can say anything with statistics ONLY WHEN the reader does not understand them. YOU may not understand them. But the medical research community does understand them quite well.

      > So I don’t credit numbers with any absolute value OVER AND ABOVE what I would credit the number gatherer and calculator.

      That is a very misinformed position. One of the reasons why we had a scientific revolution was because we started *measuring things*. Before that people used to think like you are thinking now… in rhetoric… and held belief from testimonies. Measurement was what changed everything.

      > If hordes of patients are cured of their discomfort by practicing Yoga, will that not create a bias AGAINST yoga in those whose entire livelihood depends upon hapless patients

      Medical research is typically conducted by academics, not your average clinical professionals. They have no direct profit motive. Of course, if you want to spin elaborate conspiracies, I will leave you to that. I worked and trained in medical research universities and I have great faith in the honesty of researchers and the commitment of research community to protect themselves against any bias.

      > wherever there are negative results they are touted without any qualifiers.

      The author cites meta-analyses. Meta-analyses do not randomly pick negative studies to make a point. There is a very systematic way to perform them. They are quite trusted in the research community.

      > Regardless of the psychological mumbo-jumbo (cognate bias, etc.) if lakhs of people DO FIND RELIEF (this is a fact)

      Its not a fact unless you can demonstrate it by numbers in a blinded study.

      > does the “scientific temper” tell you to ignore these observations and still base conclusions of “inconclusivity” on studies which have not been “adequately done” or does the scientific temper demand to look for a cause.

      You don’t need to know a cause. But to think scientifically in medicine is to think statistically. If you cannot understand this, you just don’t have a scientific view of the world.

      > If believing in Yoga gives relief to people, then shouldn’t you out of “patient interest concerns” try to get MORE PEOPLE to believe in yoga?

      The job of science is not promoting belief. Its job is to put out the facts.

  • Most of the cited studies have been conducted at Yoga institutes or by researchers who have worked on yoga related issues. Please show me ONE paper that I requested and proceed further.

  • The bottom-line in this discussion, as in all other discussions when scientific method meets and clashes with belief based on (possibly sincere) conviction, can be summarised in a couple of theorems that seem to be inviolable, inevitable and universal:

    Theorem I: “But YOUR science doesn’t know everything!” is an argument that cannot be refuted.

    Theorem II: “But it cured my uncle’s incurable jaundice and also my aunt’s incurable arthritis!” is an argument that cannot be refuted.

    If the well-meaning proponents of rational thinking paid due attention to these two absolute theorems that epitomise human psychology in 99.9999% of the cases, they could save themselves a great deal of time and energy!

  • Yoga does benefit people even if it is due to the “placebo effect”. But who cares, the aim is to get healthy. Committing a fraud is in human nature and people do take advantages of others for their vested purpose.

    However I do not agree that Yoga is of Indian Origin. Patanjali only jot it down, he had always maintained that the knowledge was given to him.

    Yoga has it’s origins in the previous civilizations of Lemuria and Atlantis.

    Thanks

    • Transcendental meditation! Kundalini! Lemuria! Atlantis! This is getting better and better. Why hasn’t somebody already invoked ancient alien astronauts from the Andromeda galaxy as the true source of yoga?

      • “Why hasn’t somebody already invoked ancient alien astronauts from the Andromeda galaxy as the true source of yoga”

        astronauts from Andromeda galaxy possibly could not come (unless they possess the worm hole technology or are able to do time travel) as the galaxy is some 2.2 million light years away from our “milky way” galaxy !

        As far as I know time travel is possible, one can go in future but not in past.

        About “Lemuria! Atlantis!” etc. is what I have read quite recently but I cannot verify. You don’t want to believe fine, I too am a bit skeptical about it. Probably it’s my mistake to mention about them here. And I am tired of the claim that everything started in India !

        Yoga has helped many people to reclaim their life. Are those wonders of yoga or the placebo induced cure, doesn’t matter to the individuals. Yoga may cure many things but it is not a one solution for all ailments. The mainstream medicines too do not work the same way on every individuals and in some cases they are total failure.

        I am an atheist (by choice) and believer in science but I would like to keep my options open. There is a possibility that advanced aliens did visited the Earth in the past. It is absurd to think that there cannot be advanced civilizations in the past. But in the absence of solid proof let those possibilities remain like science theories.

        • Books about Lemuria and Atlantis are not written by scholarly researchers.

          You sound like a person who wants to understand the scientific way, but does not know how to properly approach it yet. May I recommend the critically acclaimed book written by a well-regarded public intellectual and scientist Carl Sagan?

          Its: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

          http://www.amazon.in/The-Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle/dp/0345409469

          The book is a classic. It was written for people just like you. It includes topics like Atlantis, UFOs etc. Most importantly, it explains critical thinking for non-scientists. It should be the very next book you read.

          • “Books about Lemuria and Atlantis are not written by scholarly researchers”

            I didn’t said they were but then they can be.

            “You sound like a person who wants to understand the scientific way, but does not know how to properly approach it yet”

            Please don’t jump to conclusion about me. I am not a person who tries to understand scientific ways, I know scientific ways. And my references to Lemuria and Atlantis doesn’t mean I crossed over to the other side.

            As I said I recently read about them so I just mentioned about them. I am still in the process to determine whether what I read is true or not. I like to keep an open mind. We have not yet uncovered all the mysteries “Books about Lemuria and Atlantis are not written by scholarly researchers”

            I didn’t said they were but then they can be.

            “You sound like a person who wants to understand the scientific way, but does not know how to properly approach it yet”

            Please don’t jump to conclusion about me. I am not a person who tries to understand scientific ways, I know scientific ways. And my references to Lemuria and Atlantis doesn’t mean I crossed over to the other side.

            As I said I recently read about them so I just mentioned about them. I am still in the process to determine whether what I read is true or not. I like to keep an open mind. And that is why I said “in the absence of solid proof let those possibilities remain like science theories”

            We have not yet uncovered all the mysteries of the nature to arrive at the conclusion that Lemuria, Atlantis, UFO etc. cannot be true.

            To me those sufficiently advanced people are more likely to be the people from advanced alien race. It would be absurd to think that in this unbelievably large Universe we are alone.

            There is a saying that “Any technology sufficiently advanced will appear Godly !” It is very likely that this is what must have happened with the ancient people.

            Anyways thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

          • @Blackholesun

            > I didn’t said they were but then they can be.

            So far, they were not. A scholar gets his work peer-reviewed. AFAIK, none of the ones who write these kind of books get their material peer-reviewed. They go straight to general public which is not equipped to critically appraise the work. AFAIK, the people who write these books don’t even have any formal research training in relevant scientific fields. They just write because there is a market for it.

            > I am still in the process to determine whether what I read is true or not.

            And the book I mentioned will outline some of the questions to ask for that process.

            > I like to keep an open mind.

            The term “open mind” often ends up as a euphemism for setting lower standards for truth. To think scientifically and critically is to have higher standards for truth. That does not mean closed-minded. It is a question of epistemology. Is the data presented sufficient to make this particular claim? How can we tell what is enough? There are methods for that. “Not dis-proven yet” is not a good enough argument.

            > let those possibilities remain like science theories”

            In science, we use the term theory for things we already have strong evidence for. Its much different from the popular use of the word. Perhaps you meant the term hypothesis instead.

            > We have not yet uncovered all the mysteries of the nature to arrive at the conclusion that Lemuria, Atlantis, UFO etc. cannot be true.

            As Sagan puts it, he cannot disprove that there isn’t an invisible, intangible dragon in his garage (I am quoting from a decade old memory of the book). That does not mean he has to be open to the possibility. Negatives of the empirical cannot be logically disproved. Russell’s teapot is a well-known illustration of this.

            > It would be absurd to think that in this unbelievably large Universe we are alone.

            Scientists are always looking for life outside earth and are very open-minded about it. Carl Sagan himself was a strong proponent of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) program. This is different from critically evaluating specific UFO sighting claims. No scientist thinks that citizen UFO reports are reliable though. They were quite adequately investigated already. The book discusses UFO sightings and crop-circle claims.

            > It is very likely that this is what must have happened with the ancient people.

            Very likely is a rather strong claim to make.

            The book will cover all these ideas in much greater depth, in a more convincing way than I can manage.

          • @Ravi,

            The following comment is a reply to your comment you wrote at July 3, 2015 7:04 pm. I am posting it here because I do not see the “REPLY” button anymore. Not sure if the moderator has blocked it or the comment has reached it’s maximum depth (if there is anything like that) hence the button automatically got disabled.

            “AFAIK, none of the ones who write these kind of books get their material peer-reviewed”

            As far as you know, but you are not sure right? What makes you think that those who write that kind of stuff have not got it peer reviewed? What makes you think that people working in scientific fields are automatically equipped to critically appraise all types of work. I know you have not written it but you seems to be implying

            “AFAIK, the people who write these books don’t even have any formal research training in relevant scientific fields”

            So? Do scientists have formal research training in relevant non-scientific fields? But is possible that people working in non-scientific field have a formal research training in relevant scientific fields and the other way round.

            “They just write because there is a market for it”
            The same can be said about science field(s) especially the claims made by the Pharmaceutical companies.

            “And the book I mentioned will outline some of the questions to ask for that process.”

            It seems that for you that book is the final authority on the only right ways to arrive at the truth

            The term “open mind” often ends up as a euphemism for setting lower standards for truth. To think scientifically and critically is to have higher standards for truth. That does not mean closed-minded.

            You seems to be of the opinion that only the scientific methods are superior and only they can set the higher standards for truth.

            Check the following link to dispel some of the so called truth of the scientific methods.

            http://sciencelearn.org.nz/Nature-of-Science/Myths-of-the-nature-of-science#method

            “It is a question of epistemology. Is the data presented sufficient to make this particular claim? How can we tell what is enough? There are methods for that.

            What is your criteria for sufficient data? Sometimes the small amount of data is good enough to serve the purpose and sometimes volumes and volumes of data is insufficient to arrive at conclusion. There may be methods to determine how much is enough but I am sure not everything can be approached in same manner.

            ““Not dis-proven yet” is not a good enough argument”

            My point was that we are yet to uncover so many things so how can we be sure that certain thing cannot happen? Anyways are you open to idea that Lemuria or Atlantis might have actually existed in the past?

            “In science, we use the term theory for things we already have strong evidence for. Its much different from the popular use of the word. Perhaps you meant the term hypothesis instead”

            Hypothesis and Theories, both words are often used interchangeably. Moreover theories mean different thing in different context. A scientific theory is a specific theory used in scientific methods. But if you are so peculiar about the usage then “hypothesis is acceptable”. Btw what strong evidence did Einstein had when he came out with Special Relativity and General Relativity?

            “As Sagan puts it, he cannot disprove that there isn’t an invisible, intangible dragon in his garage (I am quoting from a decade old memory of the book). That does not mean he has to be open to the possibility. Negatives of the empirical cannot be logically disproved. Russell’s teapot is a well-known illustration of this.”

            I understand negatives can’t be proven and not everything is open to all possibilities. Moreover I am neither asking you or anyone else nor I am insisting that stories about Lemuria and Atlantis are really true. And I have already told you I am still evaluating what I have read.

            “Scientists are always looking for life outside earth and are very open-minded about it. Carl Sagan himself was a strong proponent of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) program. This is different from critically evaluating specific UFO sighting claims. No scientist thinks that citizen UFO reports are reliable though. They were quite adequately investigated already. The book discusses UFO sightings and crop-circle claims.”

            Are you sure what has been told by various government agencies all over the world about UFO sightings is indeed the real truth? Government agencies have always denied UFO sightings even when some of them were/are reported by their own people. They have their own reasons for doing so.

            US government highly confidential documents which are now open to public mentions there are two type of UFO’s; one type are truly of extraterrestrial origin and the other type are the one made by us after reverse engineering the alien UFO.

            Since how long we have seriously searching for alien life? merely 60 years, 70 years and during this time if we have not came across (officially) any alien life form does that mean there is no life in the Universe other than us. Moreover are we absolutely sure that we are using the right methods for determining extraterrestrial life form? Ever heard of “Fermi Paradox”? If not check it out @
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

            The article in not the final word on why we have not been able to find other intelligent life form in the Universe, it talks about possible reasons

            I am sure you realize that how big the Universe is, the distances are truly mind boggling. Even the fastest thing in the Universe we know of (Light) takes millions of years to reach us. The size of our galaxy is 100000 light years

            Why we are still searching for life elsewhere in the Universe is because there is a hope to find one. Logic tells us there has to be life elsewhere. There is a “what if” factor involved

            “Very likely is a rather strong claim to make”

            It is equally strong to claim that it cannot happen ! Imagine a person living some 2000 years is exposed to a current day technology. What do you think the type of opinion he would form about us?

            “The book will cover all these ideas in much greater depth, in a more convincing way than I can manage”

            Again as I said earlier, the book is not the final authority.

            I am a science oriented person but I do not accept blindly everything that science tells. Scientists too are humans. They too make false claims and mislead common people. Despite this I believe science and it’s methods are the best ways to arrive at truth and understand how things work

            I would like to stop here since it is a type of discussion that can go on and on. Secondly this discussion is moving in the direction that is out of context from the point of view of the topic of the article.

          • @Blackholesun

            > As far as you know, but you are not sure right?

            Everything I say is AFAIK, actually.

            > What makes you think that those who write that kind of stuff have not got it peer reviewed?

            Because they have not done any peer reviews? People have looked at these “research” claims quite comprehensively and found them to be thoroughly lacking. You will find one such review in the book I mentioned.

            > What makes you think that people working in scientific fields are automatically equipped to critically appraise all types of work.

            Researchers are typically equipped by a decade or so of formal training in accredited institutions. Critical appraisal is one of the key components of research training, assuming the institution is not failing in its mission of course.

            > So? Do scientists have formal research training in relevant non-scientific fields?

            Non-scientific fields rarely even offer any formal training. There are no Atlantis studies in any university, if you noticed. If you say that a university presence is not a requirement, they are not setting up independent institutes with standard curricula, composed of the consensus of these self-proclaimed experts either, of findings and methods.

            > But is possible that people working in non-scientific field have a formal research training in relevant scientific fields and the other way round.

            Sure, there are occasionally quacks who do have science training; Deepka Chopra, “Dr. Oz” for instance. They don’t follow the scientific process for their quack claims, which obviously invalidates the point of their training, and the credibility that it brings.

            > The same can be said about science field(s) especially the claims made by the Pharmaceutical companies.

            Most of the medical research is done in academic universities, not by pharmaceutical industry. The industry typically steps in later stages. Developed countries have regulatory authorities to keep them honest. Can regulation occasionally fail?, suuure…everything fails once in a while. The point is to have a critical process that we constantly strive to improve.

            > It seems that for you that book is the final authority on the only right ways to arrive at the truth

            Its not an “authority”. Nothing written in it is news for any scientist. It was however critically acclaimed as a book that introduced critical thinking with easy to understand arguments for *smart people* who still read books with all seriousness on Atlantis, UFOs, crystal healing etc. Since you seemed to be that person, I recommended it to you. It explains why scientists don’t take things like these seriously when it may even appear to you that they should.

            > You seems to be of the opinion that only the scientific methods are superior and only they can set the higher standards for truth.

            Science isn’t some narrowly defined method. It pretty much constitutes every vetted process, on which we have critical consensus, that it produces reliable knowledge. That leaves out only those processes that have not yet been so vetted. What do you think a reasonable person’s position should be?

            > Check the following link to dispel some of the so called truth of the scientific methods.
            http://sciencelearn.org.nz/Nature-of-Science/Myths-of-the-nature-of-science#method

            I am adequately read on the subject of History and Philosophy of Science. I am familiar with each of the issues raised on much greater depth than covered in the article you linked. I am quite aware of the complexities, nuances and academic critiques of the scientific process. No, it does not invalidate anything I said. I do not hold a simplified positivist view of science.

            > What is your criteria for sufficient data? Sometimes the small amount of data is good enough to serve the purpose and sometimes volumes and volumes of data is insufficient to arrive at conclusion.

            The research question determines the optimal method and sample size. The book should help to generally understand the issues. Probability Theory often helps us determine how much data is good enough data – its math. Sometimes, it is indeed just impractical to obtain enough data. So we make a best-effort and try to acknowledge limitations before someone else needs to point that out.

            > I am sure not everything can be approached in same manner.

            Certainly. Science favors rational and vetted processes; its not arbitrary pontification. The process that an anthropologist needs to use is indeed different from one used by a theoretical physicist.

            > My point was that we are yet to uncover so many things so how can we be sure that certain thing cannot happen?

            I understand that. I am saying we *don’t even need to be concerned* about disproving the negative.

            > Anyways are you open to idea that Lemuria or Atlantis might have actually existed in the past?

            I am open… to be open… to the idea of Atlantis and Lemuria, *when* critically vetted research is presented about the topic.

            > Hypothesis and Theories, both words are often used interchangeably.

            They are not. Although the demarcation between the two terms varies by subject. In hard sciences like physics, the demarcation is very prominent. In softer sciences, say psychology, a little less so; a theory of cognition does not have the same weight of evidence as the the theory of evolution or gravity. But the distinction is always clear in every subject.

            > Btw what strong evidence did Einstein had when he came out with Special Relativity and General Relativity?

            Einstein did math. Math is not empirical. Math needs mathematical proofs, rather than evidence, which is empirical. Once the math was critically appraised, it was empirically validated by other people.

            > Are you sure what has been told by various government agencies all over the world about UFO sightings is indeed the real truth?

            I find the mainstream views satisfactory. I don’t take an X-Files view of the world. I am not unaware of Area-52-esque narratives.

            > US government highly confidential documents which are now open to public mentions there are two type of UFO’s; one type are truly of extraterrestrial origin and the other type are the one made by us after reverse engineering the alien UFO.

            I can take a look if you link them.

            > Since how long we have seriously searching for alien life? merely 60 years, 70 years and during this time if we have not came across (officially) any alien life form does that mean there is no life in the Universe other than us.

            Of course not. We may never even be able to answer that question. Even if we never find evidence, that might not mean alien life never existed. Note how similar this position is to yours.

            > Moreover are we absolutely sure that we are using the right methods for determining extraterrestrial life form?

            Of course not. Our technology is indeed quite limited to answer this question. So far, the best we managed is to land a robot on *one* planet. The most of the rest is spectrography and radio telescopes.

            > Ever heard of “Fermi Paradox”? If not check it out @
            > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

            Sure. Fermi Paradox and Drake equation are just arguments and conjectures though.
            https://xkcd.com/384/ How much would you buy? :-).

            > I am sure you realize that how big the Universe is, the distances are truly mind boggling.

            Oh, I do.

            > Even the fastest thing in the Universe we know of (Light) takes millions of years to reach us. The size of our galaxy is 100000 light years

            Which is why it is possible, if not probable, to never encounter intelligent life, even if it exists. Its fun to think of worm-holes, FTL and hyperspace ala SciFi. It could just be that none of those will ever come to fruition. So we never might cross paths. We cannot assume linear progress in physics and space travel. Or perhaps we will. No point in speculating, except for fun.

            > Why we are still searching for life elsewhere in the Universe is because there is a hope to find one. Logic tells us there has to be life elsewhere. There is a “what if” factor involved

            You completely misunderstand my position. I am not saying there can’t logically be ETs and UFOs. Nor am I saying that we should not search; I very much favor searching. I am saying that one should not listen to every Tom, Dick and Harry who puts out a book, on this very important subject.

            I said that the evidence presented so far on the topic by the proponents was quite inadequate, as judged by experts. Perhaps you don’t have trust in experts. I tend to trust, based on my background. It isn’t that experts are never wrong. Its that, on the whole, one is better off sticking to expert consensus of the time, than run after sensationalists, which history has shown, are wrong much of the time.

            > It is equally strong to claim that it cannot happen!

            Which I never claimed.

            > Imagine a person living some 2000 years is exposed to a current day technology. What do you think the type of opinion he would form about us?

            I don’t worry about people in pre-enlightenment era. Not much difference between people 500 years ago or 1500 years ago. People in post-enlightenment era (at least those who symbolize it) won’t think today’s world is like magic (if that’s where you would drive at)… beyond belief. I think today’s world would actually quite please, but not baffle, say Voltaire, who had not seen any of the current technology.

            > I am a science oriented person but I do not accept blindly everything that science tells.

            Science asks you to be critical. But have a process for it. Being critical, just for the sake of it, is something else – perhaps often a political, rather than an epistemological position.

            > Scientists too are humans.

            And science has many checks and balances to account for this… like this peer-review process, I keep harping about.

            > They too make false claims and mislead common people.

            The scientific process does not try to mislead. Please don’t confuse the participants for the process. The process worked. It produced enormous amounts of verifiable and usable information, perhaps the greatest revolution in the history of humanity. The people who write books on Atlantis, UFOs and New Age healing have not produced an iota of such information. I distrust people who declare that they should be above the process without giving ample arguments why.

            > I would like to stop here since it is a type of discussion that can go on and on. Secondly this discussion is moving in the direction that is out of context from the point of view of the topic of the article.

            Indeed. The discussion has strayed. I think we already made our positions clear.

        • “astronauts from Andromeda galaxy possibly could not come (unless they possess the worm hole technology or are able to do time travel) as the galaxy is some 2.2 million light years away from our “milky way” galaxy!”

          Thank you for letting me know how far away the Andromeda Galaxy is from our own. And also for answering your own question as to these gentry could have arrived here in spite of the great distance between their residential address and ours: “worm hole technology”. Of course! And a moment’s thought tells us that our end of the wormhole must be smack in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, obviously connected by a secret tunnel to Area 51/52, Roswell, etc., where the aliens are in cryogenically-supported hibernation….

  • In allmost all Sanskrit scriptures the word yoga does not mean a package of exercises. It is a later forgery atributed to Patanjali. Patanjali wrote on different technics of Meditation as practice to the Theory of Sankhya .. Purely Atheistic Sankhya of Sage Kapila was appropriated by Patanjali and made it to appear as theistic by inserting the concept of Ishwar In one of a few meaningful verses of “GITA'””Yoga Karmasu kowshalam” and ” Yoga samatwa uchhate” Excellance in one’s work . and equanimity is Yoga,.

    • ##Purely Atheistic Sankhya of Sage Kapila was appropriated by Patanjali and made it to appear as theistic by inserting the concept of Ishwar In one of a few meaningful verses of “GITA’””Yoga Karmasu kowshalam” and ” Yoga samatwa uchhate”##

      Patanjali did not appropriate Yoga & if looked at Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan it again remains Irreligious , if not Atheist like Samkhya (much like the Buddhist Yogachara) . Infact Heinrich Zimmler asserts Yoga-Samkhya to be two umbilical schools , though the latter preced the former by 5 centuries . Again these two groups were coopted & modifies by all – Vedantists , Buddhists & Jains too. The only Indian School to oppose these two groups were ADAVITA-VEDANTA OF SHANKAR & PURVA MIMAMSA .Rather , one can say that Yoga was coopted & made into a more theistic concept by Gita itself (allegedly by Ved Vyas himself).

  • Hello Mr. Kakkilaya,

    I’ve been following this thread but did not find an answer to few particular points.

    1 – Have you ever practiced any form of Yoga until now ? If you have, for How long ?

    2 – Please explain few differences between the actual traditional Yoga and the modern Fake Yoga.

    Thanks
    Chakzhin

    • > 1 – Have you ever practiced any form of Yoga until now ? If you have, for How long ?

      Why does this matter? A researcher isn’t expected to get Malaria before he can do research on Malaria or to collate evidence on the effectiveness of anti-Malarial medicines. Science runs by data, not by personal subjective experiences of researchers.

      > but did not find an answer to few particular points

      Would you read a research review on Malaria and expect to find whether the researcher suffered from Malaria in the past or not?

      • Hello Ravi,

        It does matter to know if Mr. Kakkilaya had practiced Yoga or not as data that science needs is obtained from experiences of different subjects which will give researchers a larger sample size to determine the standard pattern / observations among all subjects. To study the effectiveness of any medicine, one does not have to go through the disease but one does need data from those who have the disease to see if the medicine actually works or not. But if we have experienced a particular problem / symptoms ourselves and also do research on it, we have a better understanding of what the subject is going through assisting our analysis.

        Based on your response, it appears you have considered my questions to come from a person who is Pro Yoga. I actually wanted to know if Mr. Kakkilaya had practiced Yoga himself to understand if he has done both theoretical and practical research on this matter as I had absolutely zero difference in my lifestyle while practicing Yoga. It was a decent exercise / workout which probably increases flexibility in the long run if someone practices regularly for several months. Apart from that, the myth surrounding claims as “Panacea” is absolute nonsense. I tried for couple of months after which I went back to cycling / bouldering / other sports which I enjoyed more than standing in a place and twisting myself into different poses.

        My second question was to understand the differences between traditional Yoga and Modern Fake Yoga as all the Yogasanas more or less seem the same. This is obviously my personal opinion as I am no expert in the field of Yoga but consider all of them as a decent exercise session and nothing more. I would also get some clarity on the Yoga sessions I was going to was falling on the traditional side or the fake side.

        To your last question – Yes, While I am reading researches, I always check if the researcher had personally gone through a particular disease or not as it tells me if the opinions are based on experiences of other subjects or if it has a personal background to it.

        I’d like to clarify again that both my questions few weeks back were not to go along with “Yoga is the cure for all claims”, it is only to understand if there was a practical research done apart from the theoretical analysis.

        Please do provide some differences between traditional Yoga and modern fake Yoga or if you could direct me to some articles related to this.

        Thank you

        • @ Chakzhin Lesdul

          > It does matter to know if Mr. Kakkilaya had practiced Yoga or not as data that science needs is obtained from experiences of different subjects

          Dr. Kakkilaya did not do any of the research himself. He simply reviewed evidence in existing literature. How would him doing Yoga influence him in doing the review?

          Science tries to avoid subjective experiences of subjects when objective alternatives are available. Narrations of subjective experiences can be quite unreliable. Its always better to observe than to ask… and it is better to measure than to simply observe… and it is better to measure with blinding than without.

          > which will give researchers a larger sample size to determine the standard pattern / observations among all subjects.

          How will asking increase sample sizes? Because it is cheaper? Sure. It is also cheaper quality data for the questions at hand. Asking subjects for their experiences is valid from an anthropology point of view. There, we just want to know what people think and feel. It is not important whether what they think and feel is true and real or not. It is not valid for questions of disease with measurable parameters.

          > But if we have experienced a particular problem / symptoms ourselves and also do research on it, we have a better understanding of what the subject is going through assisting our analysis.

          If we use your perspective, pretty much all cancer research is inferior, as the researchers have not experienced the cancers or chemotherapy that they do work on.

          Modern research is done by teams, not individuals. The researchers do take input of patients and nurses who closely work with patients, in order to understand the problems.

          Researchers do read subjective testimonies before doing research in a new area. Some of that influences *what* to measure. The measurement itself must be completely objective.

          As the author noted, a good segment of the Yoga research was done by Yoga institutes. So it is not unreasonable to assume that those researchers have had Yoga experience.

          > Based on your response, it appears you have considered my questions to come from a person who is Pro Yoga.

          For me, it does matter if you are Pro-Yoga or anti-Yoga. I do NOT consider myself anti-Yoga (or Pro-Yoga). If you see my posts in this forum, I am mainly concerned with how science is understood, rather than its output.

          > To your last question – Yes, While I am reading researches, I always check if the researcher had personally gone through a particular disease or not

          Which scientific journals include that info?

          > Please do provide some differences between traditional Yoga and modern fake Yoga or if you could direct me to some articles related to this.

          I will leave this to Dr. Kakkilaya, as he had done the recent review on the topic.

          But I can say that nearly all popular modern incarnations of traditional practices have been innovated. Take Taekwondo for instance. As it is understood day (or even the term), it did not exist before WWII. It was assembled from different Korean martial arts of much longer traditions. Likewise, Karate has also been significantly been modified from its Okinawan roots, before it could be popularized. These modifications made it accessible for modern, more casual practitioners who aren’t training to be the king’s body guards. Whether the traditional variety is better is a different question, as is the question of whether they are actually relevant today, if tested for the circumstances of a real world, other than as arts and sports.

  • At the outset let me tell you that I do believe in the good effects of Yoga and have started practicing it regularly for the last couple of months. If you have read the whole article then there are some sentences that do ring true.

    This article is VERY BIASED.
    Whay are studies which have proved beneficial effects not been mentioned?
    Eg.
    1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25035603
    2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25177555
    3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24834493

    I however do agree with SOME POINTS

    All asanas are not suitable for everyone. Hyperextension/flexion and extremes of positions can do more harm than good.
    Some postures do have effect on blood pressure and circulatory flow. Hence a through understanding of the effect of the asana on heart / circulation to various parts is needed.
    Being an ophthalmologist I have myself seen may patients who have suffered from sight problems due to exposure to sunlight. Pterygiums and cataracts can still be managed surgically but there is an entity known as solar retinopathy which is harmful and non-curable.
    Even pranayama has effect on heart rate and hence blood pressure. So a cardiac patient has to be very careful do practice it.

    It is being marketed today as a one stop solution for all diseases which i feel is very wrong. If you go online and see the fees that some “yogashala” charge for their courses it is even more than medical school fees. (Of course they are mostly targeted towards foreigners but because of these high fees the common man is not able to access good teachers due to cost factors)

    We have to understand that all things have benefits but also limitations. It is very important to accept both as a whole. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the limitations else it will bite us worse later.

    I would like to re-stress that I am not supporting the said article but please do keep limitation in mind and as already mentioned by others a GOOD teacher is VERY VERY important.

    • None of the above three studies have assessed clinical outcome and do not give any clue regarding improvement or cure.

  • NOTHING ACCURATE IS AVAILABLE ON PLATTER as it varies from man to man . This is true in all branches of MEDICATION.

    • It is perfectly possible to do excellent research, regardless of case-by-case variations. While results across people differ, the distribution of results across samples of adequate sample size follows very predictable mathematical patterns. This is the basis of modern clinical research.

      Please see Central Limit Theorem.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_limit_theorem

      > NOTHING ACCURATE IS AVAILABLE

      Of course, it is. Why do you think billions of dollars are spent on medical research every year? We can quantify and control accuracy quite well by scientific research methods.

  • Thank you for a very thorough review of the available evidence. This post on the Science Based Medicine blog brings up another important point about studies related to Yoga. It is important to take into consideration the kind of control condition that is being used. Many studies wrongly use “no exercise” as the control group and “Yoga regimen” as the experimental group. This doesn’t tell us anything about whether Yoga is better than just regular stretching or low impact exercise. This is a problem with many of the studies about meditation as well. They use no intervention as the control condition instead of using some other generic form of relaxation.

  • Ohhhh my god…
    I agreed that YOGA is not treatment or medicine for any illness.

    Correct, you proved this with 3000 references. I dont know more about yoga before this Yoga International Day but come to know that there is very thin line between practicing yoga and meditation. Dont know how but links each other (yet searching for answer..) Personally I believe Yoga is just a means to be healthy (just like precaution. Isn’t it?)

    Also, I was trying to find the link between Yoga, Meditation and Pinacle gland. Can you please highlight if you have any research paper or citation.

    • > just like precaution. Isn’t it?

      No evidence that it is a prevention either. As the author already amply stated so far, Yoga was never promoted as a cure or prevention in its history in Indian tradition. The specific health claims are fairly recent and are unsupported by statistical evidence.

      > link between Yoga, Meditation and Pinacle gland

      There is no “Pinacle gland”. You are probably looking for the Pineal gland. It regulates sleep via melatonin.

      You can start here…
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=pineal+gland+yoga
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=pineal+gland+meditation

      I’d recommend not getting carried away with research statements though, unless you have proper training and experience in reading them and in assessing the quality of studies (which does not seem to be the case). It’s easy to fall into confirmatory bias if you just keep looking for a link (between anything), without the training to read research literature critically.

  • From Socratese onwards all Philosophers, Intellectuals. and Scientists never thought of Yoga but raised the level of conciousness of Humanity. Yoga–Guru BKS Iyangar famously known as rubber man of Asia also Died at 94 with all organs failure. Thousands others who lived a natural life contributed to the society in their walk of life and died at 90 plus. Yoga is only an epidemic of illusions effecting the minds of gullible people.

    • With all due respect this is the most pathetic argument in this entire discussion. Does Yoga promise you that you will conquer death? or if not that you will live 200 years? Think before you write anything.

      • I didnot say Yoga will conquer Death. Becoz Death is a “Truth” and no body can run away from death. But with above comment “Yoga–Guru BKS Iyangar famously known as rubber man of Asia also Died at 94 with all organs failure” and “Yoga is only an epidemic of illusions effecting the minds of gullible people” with this comment, what do we need to think?
        Yoga can help to live healthy and beneficial life. Can just with ur medicines will live for 94 years? This is how BKS has spent his entire life with Yoga. Now with this enviroment is it possible to live 90 plus years. Again this comment “Thousands others who lived a natural life contributed to the society in their walk of life and died at 90 plus” Can you please tell me if any techies or Working in a stressfull environments can survive with 75+ years.

        • @Arun

          keshava’s comments are silly. Death at 94 is perfectly fine. But don’t use his silly argument as a strawman against the data-driven article… or a critique on modern, scientific medicine. This is a literature review, and a criticism of unsubstantiated claims, not a political article.

          There is no such thing as “allopathy”. There is plenty of data that modern medicine improves health and extends life expectancy. Look at India’s public health accomplishments since independence.

          The alternative to scientific medicine is non-scientific medicine. The alternative to modern medicine is bronze-age medicine. The alternative to rationality is irrationality. Which do you subscribe to? These aren’t controversial positions.

          • @Ravi, I totally disagree with ur above statement “modern medicine improves health and extends life expectancy”. It can improve to some extent but not the life expectancy.What do you mean by Modern Medicine? Can you please elaborate more on this? Bcoz now adays doctors are so fallen to the bottom that they are running for making money. This is how YOGA comes to picture. Its just a practice to build our energy in the stressfull life. We dont have any medicine which makes he Nadi Shuddhi, but Pranayama does. It helps in halthy breathing. Do we have any such medicines where we can get the healthy breathing fo free of cost and makes our Nadi Shuddhi? Pleas let me know i will be the first person to grasp it. 🙂

          • @Arun

            > I totally disagree with ur above statement “modern medicine improves health and extends life expectancy”. It can improve to some extent but not the life expectancy.

            Most Indians are under the illusion that their ancestors used to routinely live to a hundred years. This is an uninformed view.

            Before public health systems came about, the life expectancy at birth was around just 35 years all over the world. In 1919, in British India, it was at an abysmal 19 years.

            But why do people still think that their grand parents and great grand parents’ generation lived long and healthy lives? That is an excellent example of cognitive biases. They just remember the odd one that did live long and forget about the rest.

            That is why we do science, why we measure… to shatter such illusions. Without data, a normal human engages in woolly thinking, wishful thinking etc. That is what you are doing now (normal behavior for a typical unscientific person – most of India).

            The rationalist struggle is to ask for data, carefully collected in unbiased study designs and mathematically analyzed. The results are often counter-intuitive. That is why we spend money on science.

            > What do you mean by Modern Medicine? Can you please elaborate more on this?

            Modern medicine is quite simply the system of medicine which uses the latest knowledge of the human body (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, cell biology etc) to understand disease processes (pathology). Then it attempts to use the latest technology available, to design interventions. As the understanding improves, and new technology becomes available, modern medicine changes along with it.

            > Bcoz now adays doctors are so fallen to the bottom that they are running for making money.

            Doctors of modern medicine may certainly be making a business out of their profession, after training 10+ years in the area; as are the untrained and semi-trained quacks who claim alternative options. Ethics of the business of medicine are a different matter compared to the facts of medicine.

            If it costs too much to send a weather satellite, the alternative is not to consult an astrologer or do a rain dance. It is to figure out how to do it cheaper and more efficiently.

            > This is how YOGA comes to picture.

            That’s the point of the article. Yoga isn’t in the picture. That’s the point of the whole research review. Please read the article, the author’s comments and my own comments in this forum.

            > Its just a practice to build our energy in the stressfull life.

            That’s a health claim. That should be tested. How do you think it should be tested? Define energy in scientific terms. How do you measure it?

            > We dont have any medicine which makes he Nadi Shuddhi, but Pranayama does.

            Nadi Shuddi is not a real thing. If you think it is, how will you demonstrate the concept?

            Which medical text claimed this concept? How did it determine this to be a fact? What is the measurement of suddhata?

            > It helps in halthy breathing.

            How can you show that it does? What unbiased tests do you propose?

  • Hmm, the issue I have with this article is that the majority of trials have proved inconclusive or are not of a big enough sample. Every paper you presented here both positive and negative views on yoga however rigorous they may be have too small of testing size. Therefore instantly coming to the conclusion that yoga does not cure any disease is biased sir.

    The reason being their is not yet any conclusive evidence that yoga is not helpful.

    Now in the case of serious diseases or body debilitating disorders like osteoporosis or Alzheimer once acquired it is common sense that yoga postures do not help since you cannot physically perform them and in the case of alzhemers your mind has already deteriorated to a state where mental cognition required for that aspect of yoga would be difficult to perform. I myself am a undergrad in training to become a neuro-psychiatrist eventually and I am currently appealed at the state of the scientific research.

    Statistial data can be easily fudged. Only those researchers who have lots of money to spend can get published in big journals and if a researcher however brilliant he may be doesnt have the money then he is cast aside. There has been an outburst of hundreds of useless journals that are not rigorous whatsoever yet they flood the industry. Shortcuts are being taken and small sample sizes are being used to prove one way or another and more importantly the majority of the papers published go in with one fixed mindset rather than going in with an open mind.

    Now I agree they need to prove their hypothesis but it is simple for anyone with any experience in statistics to fudge data. Even the major journals barely ever truly peer review the papers published since now we have programs that can create random nonsensical papers that get through the peer review process and it is becoming a problem. Thus I would suggest to take findings in journals with a pinch of salt unless you can verify them yourselves or the findings have been verified and replicated many times by many different teams from different backgrounds and organizations.
    Overall based on the current state of research in yoga the evidence for its benefits to cure diseases are inconclusive. This means we cannot assume it works but we also cannot assume that it does not.

    Now what you or your colleagues could do as a possible solution is perform a longtitudinal study. Have participants who suffer from various diseases ou can pick one to start with and have them practice yoga if possible and its techniques over a period of 5-10 years or longer depending on what sort of condition they have. Make sure it is randomized and includes a representative population sample and is of course a double blind procedure. Next record changes both positive and negative in the patients conditions over the number of years you are performing the study and at the end of the period end the testing and look at the results you have compiled till then and publish your findings in a reputed academic journal not some random run of the mill journal.

    Only if such a study is performed can we truly know how Yoga affects one’s body and how it deals with debilitating conditions but till such a study is performed dont come to conclusions after all are you not a skeptik and last i checked skeptiks dont come to a predisposed conclusion until the facts point overwhelmingly to one way or another.

    • > Hmm, the issue I have with this article is that the majority of trials have proved inconclusive or are not of a big enough sample.

      That means that there is no evidence to make tall claims.

      > Therefore instantly coming to the conclusion that yoga does not cure any disease is biased sir.

      No, it means that there is no evidence to make positive claims. In science, the critical method is used. The default position is that it (Yoga, or for anything else under study) does not work. Then we look for data to challenge that position. This is the normal way by which research is done.

      > The reason being their is not yet any conclusive evidence that yoga is not helpful.

      Maybe, it does not help your biases. But that is the ONLY logical conclusion.

      > Now in the case of serious diseases or body debilitating disorders like osteoporosis or Alzheimer once acquired it is common sense that yoga postures do not help since you cannot physically perform them and in the case of alzhemers your mind has already deteriorated to a state where mental cognition required for that aspect of yoga would be difficult to perform.

      Tell that to people making fancy claims in those areas.

      > Statistial data can be easily fudged.

      It can, in centers where “research” is just seen as a way to pad up resumes. That is not how research is done at reputable institutes.

      > Only those researchers who have lots of money to spend can get published in big journals

      As it stands, all the big journals are free to publish in. Open Access is still a minority model among reputable journals. Of course, they typically only publish large (implicitly well-funded) studies because they bring in strong evidence, but don’t themselves demand money.

      > and if a researcher however brilliant he may be doesnt have the money then he is cast aside.

      One does not become a “brilliant researcher” just inside his/her own head. One becomes so, by producing a series of well researched studies, as recognized by other experts in the field. Brilliant researchers can command good funding fairly quickly.

      > There has been an outburst of hundreds of useless journals that are not rigorous whatsoever yet they flood the industry.

      Yes, but they only fool laymen and perhaps lower-tier academics in weak institutes. Serious researchers ignore junk publications and stick to those with good impact factors.

      > Shortcuts are being taken and small sample sizes are being used to prove one way or another

      Small sample sizes don’t “prove” anything.

      > and more importantly the majority of the papers published go in with one fixed mindset rather than going in with an open mind.

      There is a well-defined question to answer in a study. The term: “Open mind” is often used as code for wooly thinking. Researchers go by data. That is an open mind.

      > Now I agree they need to prove their hypothesis but it is simple for anyone with any experience in statistics to fudge data.

      Fudging data is a serious matter. Reputed institutes have a number of safeguards. The incentives are so aligned that it is foolish for a researcher to attempt such things. Academic training of 10 years or so inculcates these basic ethics. If the people you know do not have these traits, you are not training in a serious research institution.

      > Even the major journals barely ever truly peer review the papers published

      All major journals peer review. You may be confusing peer review with replication. Replication is not a journal function. It is the scientific community function.

      > since now we have programs that can create random nonsensical papers that get through the peer review process and it is becoming a problem.

      That only ever worked for junk publications. It never got through any major journal, or was so attempted AFAIK.

      > Thus I would suggest to take findings in journals with a pinch of salt unless you can verify them yourselves or the findings have been verified and replicated many times by many different teams from different backgrounds and organizations.

      Name some fields where you are satisfied by these standards… where every finding is carefully replicated by several other teams.

      As for as “unless you can verify them yourselves”, that is a very wrong approach to consider. What you are basically saying is don’t bother with research reports unless you have checked it yourself. Then, why should anyone else take your science seriously? It may be convincing to you, but no one needs to consider it by the same logic. Having science we can trust is critical. There are ways to assess that trust. For instance, look at how meta-analyses do it.

      > Overall based on the current state of research in yoga the evidence for its benefits to cure diseases are inconclusive. This means we cannot assume it works but we also cannot assume that it does not.

      It is not inconclusive. It is that there is no strong evidence that it “cures” anything. The term cure was important because that was what the proponents were claiming.

      > Now what you or your colleagues could do as a possible solution is perform a longtitudinal study. Have participants who suffer from various diseases ou can pick one to start with and have them practice yoga if possible and its techniques over a period of 5-10 years or longer depending on what sort of condition they have. Make sure it is randomized and includes a representative population sample and is of course a double blind procedure. Next record changes both positive and negative in the patients conditions over the number of years you are performing the study and at the end of the period end the testing and look at the results you have compiled till then and publish your findings in a reputed academic journal not some random run of the mill journal.

      So basically, you will demand anyone who produces a regular literature review, with conclusions you don’t like, to go do a gigantic, long-term, prospective study… a standard you won’t hold the so-called positive research to? How exactly do you do a “double blind” study of Yoga? You know what is a sane & scientific approach? Telling people to shut up until they produced the kind of studies you are demanding. That is what we do with the pharmaceutical industry. That is what the author has done. Logically, let alone in science, the burden of proof is always on the people who make claims, not on those who reject them (the default position of the scientific method).

      > Only if such a study is performed can we truly know how Yoga affects one’s body and how it deals with debilitating conditions but till such a study is performed dont come to conclusions after all are you not a skeptik and last i checked skeptiks dont come to a predisposed conclusion until the facts point overwhelmingly to one way or another.

      When did you last check? You don’t seem to understand what being skeptical means. Look up the meaning of the word for starters. Being a skeptic definitionally means doubting until there is strong evidence to no longer justify doubting. For a skeptic, doubt is the default position.

  • I do not do yoga though I trust yoga but this website is full of wrong claims and misleading people.
    Doctor, if you intelligent enough then tell me what is good for you, instead of telling what is not good.

    • First, this is a message board, not a scratchpad. You don’t make multiple posts as you find things in your browsing session. Your hvrd link redirects one to the homepage (which at this time, does not mention Yoga), not an article. The feelguide article does not even mention Yoga, just mindfulness meditation. It also looks like a terrible resource for science news. The Lazar link makes no claims with regards to any disease.

      Second, cite primary research literature as the author has, not health journalism, even from a Harvard magazine. Health journalists (science journalists, in general, but health journalists especially) are notorious for exaggerating findings. If you can’t understand primary research literature, you should not be the one to argue.

      Third, the author was quite specific with regards to cures (i.e. Yoga not curing anything), not random physiological effects or even minor effects on disease, the way simple exercise has… but cures. That’s the keyword. The reason this is so is that Yoga proponents have made exaggerated claims of cure, not backed by literature.

  • Donot spread such false rumuors about yoga its very effictive on all types of diseases i personally get cured by doing yoga

  • I do not contest your claim that yoga does not cure any disease based on the evidence you reviewed, however, in general, i find it reasonable that meditation may have significant health effects in certain cases (not always positive effects..). I am saying this since logically speaking, observing ones mind over long periods of time may have effects on ones behaviour, perceptions of self, others, and have effects on interpersonal relations. As known the vrain and immune system have many influences and connections, therefore it would be a reasonable hypothesis (not proof) that meditation may have health effects due to the potential changes it may bring to oeople lives. Of course it would ve very hard to quantify all that into sonething that would be regarded as statistical proof.

  • Very well researched with respect to the statistics. While I do agree that current trends of what yoga is being propagated is rhetorical, there is a deep understanding and philosophy embedded in what yoga is all about.

    From what I have experienced and understood, yoga is more holistic practice (way of life)
    1. Diet
    2. Emotions
    3. Asana and Pranayama
    4. Listening

    Yoga provides frameworks and methodology (reflective and not analytical) to be mindful and practice the above mentioned points.

    If one can be in control of these, naturally the individual can lead a healthy life. It also depends on the environment where we live in. This ancient practice is not the same with current environment with respect to quality of food, our education system, and our understanding for that matter.

    But the roots are deep that Yoga is applicable and relevant even in modern times and it is being constantly rediscovered to fit into the fast changing times. The kind of yoga that is being marketed has lost it’s roots and hence seem very absurd. But I would recommend to get in deep to the subject to really understand it, rather than going by analytical arguments.

  • Some of the comments here reminds me of Prof Joesphson’s pathological disbelief.
    We are moving into QIM -quantum informational medicine of which yoga is just one aspect. And researchers in basic sciences are studying effect od subtle energies on bo -systems.

    Functional MRIs are done to study the energy system of the body. True all this will go against the vested interest of the most powerful . By the way Carl Jung did yoga. Happy debating. My yognidra sessions are always housefull……

  • @Kunda Silimkhan
    There is no such thing as “quantum informational medicine”. The words quantum and energy fields are used by new age quacks to sell their nonsense. They are just meant to sound as if they are doing sophisticated work when all they are doing is bloviating. Don’t fall for that mumbo jumbo.

  • Well written article yoga, homeopathy , some of Ayurveda all the same ship. Really hard to convince others though. They just don’t get it!

  • “No, Yoga Does Not Cure Any Disease”.

    This is a Deepity (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Deepity).
    A deepity has (at least) two meanings: one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false or meaningless and would be “earth-shattering” if true. To the extent that it’s true, it doesn’t matter. To the extent that it matters, it isn’t true.

    The “true but trivial” aspect: When we look at the list of diseases mentioned here, we can see that they are all long term chronic diseases. They take time to develop and seem to be connected with aging and once they begin, they have no known cure in general. Yes, it is true that Yoga does not cure any disease listed here, say Hypertension, Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, backache, etc.

    “Sounds profound but essentially false or meaningless aspect”: For this, I will directly quote from the article.
    “All the available evidence as of now, and the systematic reviews and meta-analyses, indicate clearly that YOGA DOES NOT CURE or PREVENT, or significantly alleviate, ANY ailment, that affects humans”.
    This is either false or meaningless. The evidence does not indicate clearly that Yoga does not prevent or significantly alleviate ailments like hypertension or backache or cardiovascular disease, etc. The jury is still out on that.

    Of course, those who overenthusiastically peddle Yoga as a cure come up with their own deepities. But two deepities won’t make an insightful observation.

    Instead of asking the question “Does Yoga cure any disease?”, the question “Does Yoga have any positive contributions to make in improving long term health?” may provide fruitful ideas for research.

  • I fully trust yoga & precisely pranayam. I have not gone through research papers,& not need at all.I was benefited physically & mentally much when all science failed.I do it & suggest my patients to try them selves.As a medical practitioner I can understand importance of research,but it’s not business for all (Yes for few it is there…!).Don’t make it ego issue & accept what you trust & experienced.But I am confident enough by my experience with patients & me,it is helpful in many cases ( not all!)and not to be rejected straight way.

  • Wah! When thousands of research papers, published by Yoga Kendras themselves, fail to prove the efficacy of yoga in preventing or treating any ailment, evidence itself becomes unnecessary! Shall we apply this ‘evidence not necessary’, ‘cannot be proved, but really effective’ etc etc arguments to every other sphere of human endeavors, including modern scientific medicine?

  • Dear Srinivas Kakkilaya,
    I’ve liked very much your article. We really don’t know what yoga (in the wide sense, not just the asana part) do. I think that noone knows. Even the best yoga teachers. It was never thought to be for treating any diseases. It was for reaching “another states of consciesness” in which truth is obvious. It was meant for liberation. Liberation from what? It was meant for gaining power, for opening chakras and so on. And why this should be helpful for healing, why this should be helpful at all.
    I’ve been practising yoga asanas, pranayama, bija meditation and Patanjali sutra meditation for 12 years 2 or more hours daily. Most of the time I feel great but this was my expectation and I followed the idea of “going ahead and up”. The reality is that I became inactive because I was happy from everything, so no need for doing whatsoever. (To be honest during this time I completed two higher educations and found a good job but everything just happened to me without much doing and efforts, without initiative.) I think I was also a little bit addicted to this “special state of consciousness”.
    When I met my husband I’ve understood that the meditation I practized is not compatible with my love and later with cares for my children.
    I don’t regret for the long time spent in meditation nor for stopping it. I really don’t know what this special kind of meditation do, and just to say “it will be very good for you and your health” will be a big lie.

  • Arguing with idiots is useless. You sound like Poonam Pandey or Rakhi Sawant who say or do something in media to draw attention – Agree what is effective if Yoga is not?

    You should be awarded with Padam Bhushan or Padam Shri for opening our eyes. I have sent a link of this nasty article to Mr. N. Modi to understand and appreciate you bro. love you Srinivad

  • @Kalyani “Yes, it is true that Yoga does not cure any disease listed here, say Hypertension, Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, backache, etc.” – as assumptive as the author of this research blog. Come to our ashram. Talk with our patients in all the above categories. For 500 years it has been proving the science public wrong. In fact, the ashram was gifted to this village by the king of Udaipur, after our head yogi cured him of infertility. It comes down to the final argument – disease may come to reside eventually in the body if left undetected and untreated. There, it is hard to treat with yoga, but not impossible. If you can catch the seed of the disease, while it is still in your mind, well then…….who’s to say yoga doesn’t work? Prevention absolutely; cure – proof positive. Shreejan, Yoga Therapist, PhD Yoga

  • @Shreejan Sita

    Shreejan, Yoga Therapist, PhD Yoga

    Which university granted you a PhD?

    disease may come to reside eventually in the body if left undetected and untreated.

    What exactly is your medical training? Actually, never mind that… at what level did you last formally study anything Biology related?

  • Yoga does no cure disease it’s true.
    It HEALS us.
    Cure is just temporary relief from pain.
    But Healing is dealing with the root cause of the problem.
    A drug might calm the pain down.
    But why is the pain there in the first place?
    It’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. And by subduing this pain, we’re just telling our bodies to shut up. It’s plain ignorance.
    When yoga is combined with Naturopathy, it gives the body a chance to heal itself.
    Our bodies are not stupid.
    Our bodies have the ability to heal itself, even from severe cases. It just takes alot of time.
    What yoga and Naturopathy does is it decrease the time needed for the body to heal itself.
    The mind and the physical body is connected.
    If your mind is pure.(or in simpler words- stress free.) your physical body also gets benefited.
    Yoga helps clear the mind through meditation.
    And yoga also helps clear the mind through physical practices too (Asanas).
    As the physical body is also connected to the mind.

    So to say yoga is not good for health, is just a statement saying that you do not understand what Yoga is.

  • @srinivas
    Cure and healing both term is different we have to know then any body can comment on healing and cure.
    Disease is known as Dis+ease which means take out there disease they will feel better and thats healing and healing leads to cure of Dis+ ease. Cannot treat hamstrings tightness with medicine it will be by yoga because its give flexibility. You can not give strength and mental peace to patient by medicine. But yoga gives both thats call cure….

  • Dear Dr Srinivas,
    Please let me know from how many years have you been practicing Yoga? Have you actually practiced all 8 limbs of ashtanga Yoga​? Okay let me ask you a simple question, which system of medicine gives you complete cure to any disease? Definitely not even a single system has proven effective in “curing” any disease. Then why blame on Yoga​ alone. Don’t practice Yoga as a therapy or something to gain from it. Thats what our old text Bhagavad-Gita says: “karmanyevadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana”. Don’t “use” Yoga as therapy or something. Make it as a tool to culture your body, mind and soul. If you are able to do it without being judgemental and all wanting, then definitely you will be able to find the essence of Yoga!
    It’s a shame on you all to judge yoga or any other systems like this! Unless you know the deeper aspects and mechanism of any system including Yoga, you have no right to criticize or judge like this.
    Coming to your article Mr Srinivas, I can imagine how much of time you would have spent to go through all those 3000 papers or something which is all about proving researches done on Yoga are not significant or scientific enough. Congratulations! You have spent a hell lot of time in proving nothingness of Yoga. My concern is, if you could use that same amount of time practicing Yoga instead, you could have had emerged as a better person and who knows, you could have even proved that Yoga works!
    I personally do not believe in those researches shts! Come on! Every human body and it’s geans are designed in its own unique way. You cant just consider the effect of something on every body to be the same! Even medicines acts different on different person. So if those damn research papers says something about Yoga being nothing, then its because Yoga is beyond those kind of studies! Even bigbang theory is just a theory or hypothesis and you cant find the evidence, doesn’t mean that it’s actually not there or doesn’t exist. You can’t give evidence for everything that exist! Even medicines are just experimentation on the body in order to find relief! Today one research says that certain medication is good for some disease and tomorrow one more research says that it has more side effects than that of its good effect on that disease. So stop with this research bullsht. Yoga can’t be measured in any kind of numerical values or those statistical analysis.
    Being Indian, if you are not able to accept your own theories and system and that too not even able to actually practice or have deep knowledge about it, then it’s just like doubting about your own existence or birth! Sorry to quote that.
    People who are blabbering about Ramdev Baba being ultimate person in reference to Yoga, for your kind information, he is not the ultimate icon of Yoga. He is just another​ person who follows Yoga in his own way! If you are able to do Yoga and follow Yoga more than he can do, you may become more famous than him, and who knows, people in the world may even start to talk about you!
    Those all who has not been able to accept Yoga, stop criticizing. Yoga is not just about asanas or meditation! There are thousand and millions of ancient texts and philosophies about Yoga and its effects. If you start reading and analysing them today, then all your life is not enough to complete at least a percent of it! So Start doing yoga with an open mind, not just the asana or Pranamya part, but the whole 8 limbs of it. I bet you are going to change your opinion. If you don’t find any effect, you can come here and blame Yoga wholeheartedly and all the day you want. Till then shut all narrowed minds and filthy mouths of yours!
    Thank you!

  • Dear Dr Srinivas, if you have attempted to write this article in order to become famous, then definitely……… its not working!
    Try something else. How about practicing Yoga? Consider this as your challenge, practice Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranamya, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and if possible, reach the state of Samadhi if you can! If you dont know the exact meanings or knowledge of these terms, Please start researching about it (definitely not the negative articles) but from the actual old texts. Try correlating it with your activities. Practice, then come here and comment. It may take your whole life or something. But no worries. I’m going to wait for your reply and experiences you went through during the process!

  • I can’t challenge you without trying it for myself. Ofcourse I’m trying to incorporate them in my daily life. May be one day soon, I will be able to adapt it completely!
    You still have not answered many questions of mine Dr Srinivas! I am waiting for some honest answers here.

  • Dr Srinivas Kakkilaya,

    You said “•The greatest contribution from Hinduism – it is not.”
    Even I do not think yoga is the greatest contribution from Hinduism, it is nevertheless a Hindu stuff.
    The Yoga is not just physical exercises and asanas but a philosophy. It is one of the 6 darshanas or philosophies in Hinduism. Patanjali’s yoga sutras and other works seems to be the existing bible of yoga nowadays.

    How can you say it is not related to Hinduism?

  • Well doctor, I just asked whether you tried practicing or not. Not that you have to be perfect in that. Perfection comes with practice, if you do not even give it a try, how can get perfection in it!? And sir, that too giving a sarcastic reply!?

    Of course I don’t deserve reply from you as you have told me already. You know what? I don’t need your reply at all. By the way I see it, leave about the deeper aspects, you might be not even knowing the basic things about any system including Yoga, which is why you can conclude like this easily.

    My request to you is, rather than finding lacking of other systems, please write something​ very useful about your system of practice! At least that will educate people who doesn’t how your medication or treatment actually works!

    Dear doctor, please don’t consider my statements here as offensive! This is just like you disliking and commenting about a person, with whom you have not even spoken at least once and not trying to understand from his point of view! This article and the way you believe about other systems is similar to what I said in my last sentence.

    Thank you for spending your precious time to read and reply to my comments!

  • So according to you Yoga is useless..what about drugs for treatment of diabetes, cholesterol lowering drugs?? Do you have any evidence to their efficacy in treatment of metabolic disorders?? Do you know that diabetes and heart disease can be reversible and that too with natural solutions ?Your arguments are solely driven to malign Yoga.

  • Dr Srinivas – To smoke or not smoke , to drink alcohol or not drink is an individual’s choice..knowing fully well the deleterious effects. so doing or not doing is an individual choice.The government or the medical system is not keen to control the habit’s of individual’s…then why parents don’t have a choice whether to vaccinate their children or not ? How can the government and the medical system force parents to do so despite there being no scientific evidence or long term studies with respect to health benefits of vaccination? What studies are done to show the vaccinated kids are better then un vaccinated ? What is the evidence that suggests the safety in usage of multiple doses of different vaccines on the kids ? Why is Autism on the raise in the last 30 years? Your system is doing organized genocide on the gullible parents and children to promote your own self interests with vaccination. There is n single drug discovered which reverses diabetes or heart disease but there are many anti-oxidant rich foods and anti inflammatory foods that increases the immunity of the individual’s. It is the first step in healing and the body is very much capable of self healing. Yoga is a means of increasing oxygen , positive energy that triggers the healing process. Thank you

  • You are right; small pox, polio, tetanus, diphtheria etc are eradicated or controlled by Yoga!

  • You are such an idiot to claim that yoga does not cure diseases…Shame that you type of people exist who want to promote doctors who give us poison.

    I have been practicing yoga since last 20+ years and have seen real benefits. It not only cures but improves immune system and is a great preventive to diseases…I think you have to learn something before you understand prevention is better than cure.

    I strongly believe while writing this post, some of your doctors friends have been pumping money to your account…Who cares..You have hit yourself hard dear…take care.

  • I have been having frequent head ache due to sinusitis. I practiced the breathing exercises prescribed by a yoga video. I was almost free from sinusitis as long as I did it, but for some time I stopped it and the headache came back again. I stonglly believe it helped me. Of corse I do not know if I would have been benefited doing regular breathing exercises advised by physical therapists as I never followed their regimen of exercises.

  • Srinivas Kakkilaya – If I write too much explaining the essence of Yoga to someone like you that would be a mockery of the very principles Yoga teaches. Dear friend you can enjoy your life being a self-absorbed all knowing QUALIFIED person who may NOT be all Knowledgeable!
    Anyways, just like some of the others – Kumar et al, I have suffered from IBS and would want to tell you that though I have lived my life as an atheist and now call myself as a Seeker (avoid any confusion with people trying to over analyze with terms like atheist , agnostic), after all these years of my life till mid 30s, the one great practice and philosophy, other than extraordinarily believing in my own energy, which I have followed and thus saw amazing improvement in my health – is YOGA.

    I give you that much that the Americanization or Commercialization of Yoga has surely hurt the real practice which our sages, great warriors, and common people have practiced for centuries. But it is upto a person (read as disciple) to extract the essence out of a great teaching.

    Please stop being such a naive and bombarding us with your great researches and bookish knowledge just to create unnecessary ripples in the ocean…go and do some real YOGA and inculcate that as a part of your life and you will see the difference in years 🙂 :)…maybe you have better things on your mind. Anyways, good luc fellow human being. Just like existence of animals or other life forms, you also have the right to exist as a part of humanity.

    Please Don’t bother to comment. Because sincerely I have NOT taken the pain to comment to your tomfoolery, but to make sure that a fellow human who reads your article, inadvertently should NOT hesitate to start an amazing journey of Yoga in his/her life.

  • K Mathur and Om P Dwivedi – Please do NOT stop this amazing practice of Yoga in your life. But make sure that you include the asanas with pranayam and meditation (once you make your body stronger after 6m -1 yr of practice). I was lucky that my father is a great Homeopathy practitioner distribute the meds FREE to general public) whose medicines though didn’t cure my IBS but helped in keeping it under control. I know this naive Doctor will again come back with 100 years of research and 3000 papers to fool us about Homeopathy as well…but I have seen the amazing difference in many people’s lives who have suffered migraines, skin problems and failed in AIIMS and Apollo hospitals. My father cured my mother’s Dengue keeping her at home in 2 weeks without letting the platelets count drop to an extent where we may have needed a blood transfusion.

    The point is simple. This world gives you so many traps to fall in. I can assure you Yoga is NOT one of them. No practice is perfect BECAUSE just like in statistical modeling we have to test the hypothesis at times by controlling on various factors – Yoga when applied too normal people like us with inconsistent life, all ups and downs of life, may not showcase all powerful affects. After all it is the body – the greatest truth that we all grow old and weak and die!!!
    Even US researches have starting to prove the real benefits of Yoga asanas coupled with meditation and at the same time the BIG issues and side-effects these majority of the modern meds are having on people’s bodies.

    Anyways, wrote a lot – Enjoy your life, have Faith in your Energy and Infiniteness. And instead of so many harmful addictions present in today’s world, try inculcating the one with the least harm – Yoga (I guess Dr. Srinivas will approve this statement 🙂 :))

  • Great to know that you value my words! Read the last paragraph again about the safety of Yoga – no, it is not even safe!

  • @maverick

    I know this naive Doctor will again come back with 100 years of research and 3000 papers to fool us about Homeopathy as well

    Already written dude. Yes, researchers evaluated thousands of papers on homeopathy – in fact they evaluated ALL of research literature on homeopathy.

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/11/homeopathy-not-effective-for-treating-any-condition-australian-report-finds

    British homeopaths (who are somewhat more scientifically literate than Indian homeopaths) actually agreed (that there is in fact no scientific evidence AT ALL) with this scientific report (but of course stuck to their personal opinion, which means nothing).

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/12/no-scientific-case-homeopathy-remedies-pharmacists-placebos

    Next, you will be telling us that from your personal experience that astrology and Reiko also work and that you can cure diseases by sacrificing chickens to the local village deity or visiting whatever is your favorite temple. Proof? – Why you saw with your eyes of course! From your “personal experience”! Your grand parents assured you. All your neighbors agreed etc. etc.

  • @Raju S Gottumukkala

    Why is Autism on the raise in the last 30 years?

    It seems to correlate to the rise in average age of fathers in societies, interestingly, not with the age of mothers. Later fatherhood seems to both increase the average intelligence of children as well as the risk of autism.

    The vaccine scare began because of a fraudster by the name of Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield made a new single dose MMR vaccine that had no scientific basis. In order to create a market for it, he did a tiny “study”, manipulated the data and was eventually caught. His medical license was revoked for fraud. There is plenty of evidence that he is a crook.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452

    This is the article by Brian Deer, the journalist who caught this crook.
    http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347

    Of course, it still started a cultish movement of scientifically uneducated, but grieving parents who want easy answers to why their child is autistic.

    The vaccine scare led to parents refusing the vaccine. Result? Kids died because of diseases that were otherwise meant to be perfectly in control.

    You can refuse vaccines. But realize there is little difference between you and the Pakistani and Afghani tribesmen who think Polio vaccines are a western plot to reduce their fertility. The consequences are same, although you benefit a bit more from herd immunity, at least until the scare becomes large enough. Then, people like you will cost the lives of Indian children.

    Be aware that your child is dependent on you to make intelligent choices.
    https://news.vice.com/article/these-anti-vaccine-parents-found-guilty-in-the-death-of-their-toddler

    Realize this when you think you are debating the author: You likely took your last biology classes probably in high school and have no first hand experience in applying the scientific method. He taught medicine at a university. Reading random trash on the Internet does not give you an education. You don’t even understand what he wrote and the support of evidence he has. Come back after you reviewed all the articles he cited. If you can’t, you are not equipped to debate him. If you can understand the research: criticize the methods and synthesis in a scholarly way, not via trash talking. Discuss math, evidence, study protocols etc.

    @”Dr” Sumana
    What did your doctorate teach you about critiquing an article that is based on peer reviewed literature? It does not look like you have any training in the process. Without that, your degree is not worth more than the cardboard it is printed on.

  • What is clear is that this article has not, and will not, cure any disease.
    As for yoga, there is evidence that it has a positive effect on addictive behaviour. See this link https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3646290/
    Addictions like smoking and alcohol abuse have a huge toll on human health, so this feature of yoga is by itself enough to refute all the sophistry employed in this article.
    Reality is that allopathy has ZERO efficacy for curing chronic pain and other emotional conditions. Complementary therapies do. Allopathy does not even have an explanation for emotion that makes sense to its own framework. Where there are therapies (psychedelics, for instance) that can affect changes in emotional states and balance, those are feared, reviled and discarded by the engineers who call themselves doctors.
    Allopathy is one vast exercise in reductionism and treating the body as an engineering problem, and this has limitations. This is often unfortunately accompanied by insufferable arrogance and hubris of practitioners (“I went to medical school for X yrs, etc.”). Of course some of this is justified given the well-known benefits of of allopathy in a variety of treatments, but then some allopaths get this into their head that Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) are the catch-all end-all in measuring efficacy of treatments.
    The result is a vast epidemic of prescribing poisonous pharmaceuticals and antibiotics, just because they solve one symptom in RCTs, and never mind what other problems these deadly poisons are causing, and what other health tradeoffs these poisons involve. Even worse is the epidemic of getting entire populations hooked on pharmaceutical opiates, because allopathy will never give “I don’t know” as an answer, but will actively sedate the patient, addict them to painkillers, and pretend it is helping them even though they know it is not a long term solution.
    The best doctors in the world are compassionate healers who add placebos, emotional treatments, substitute good lifestyles for bad ones in the patient to remove addictions, and generally treat their poison pharmaceutical toolkit as something to be used sparingly. And then there are those who write prescriptions to treat symptoms, and then devalue other treatments because they don’t fit their narrow worldview. God help you if you end up depending on one of these people for your health.

  • @ Dr. Srinivas Kakkilaya and Dr. Ravi. I’m greatly enlightened by your knowledge, developed through a dedicated, thoroughly sincere and focused process of learning. Science, logic, reasoning, scientific thought-process and development of searching and researching mind-set are the basis of acquiring knowledge which is inversely proportional to belief, faith and dogma. These latter-mentioned qualities attenuate knowledge-thirsty mind. From unfathomable darkness to germination and development of Universe through Big Bang, development of Energy in different forms as well as creation of life, the journey is from darkness to light, from negative to positive , from ignorence to knowledge, from dependence on spontaneity to achieving independence. This journey is unending, breaking the limits of past and previous knowledge. This is the journey of humanity and journey of knowledge. This journey of knowledge and humanity is through the road of Science. The basis of science and scientific process is facts, figures and informations on whose shoulders researches are carried out. In Medical Science RCT-s are these basis to arrive at a specific treatment modality/drug application etc. Empiricism can’t be generalised. Standardisation of a treatment procedure must come through a thorough in-depth study which is a long-drawn affair requiring medical statistics maintaing. Dr. Srinivas and Dr. Ravi emphasised that YOGA doesn’t CURE any ailment. To support the statement he has shown the study-papers of RCT-s. This is scientific method. To negate the statement you have to establish scientifically how YOGA cures. Some empirical observations can’t be a scientific method of treatment for general application. Those getting benefits, carry on. But to uphold this method as TREATMENT PROCEDURE FOR CURE by the Policy Makers is not scientific. On the contrary, Government should allocate more funds in different sports and physical training right from the school level and supply pure water, ensure pollution-free air to breathe and help grow chemical-pollutant free food to develop A HEALTHY COUNTRY.

  • @Ravi.
    Thank you.for reading my comments! You need not concern yourself about my “cardboard piece” of certificate. What i have commented and “criticized” according to you, is purely based on the comments following this article. It was just my opinion and what real criticism is you commenting about my degree or certificate! Instead of going so low with your so called comments, comment something which is useful for the society.
    Thank you!

  • @Dr Sumana

    comment something which is useful for the society.

    Here are some socially useful comments.

    How about people who have no experience consuming primary scientific literature of any kind, just stop sharing their uninformed opinions and challenging scholarly content. It just looks stupid. It is not obvious to people like you that you are looking stupid, unless people point out how stupid it looks. I am providing you that essential social service.

    When you say idiotic things like this:

    Definitely not even a single system has proven effective in “curing” any disease.

    it becomes clear that you have no medical expertise whatsoever.

    I personally do not believe in those researches shts!
    So stop with this research bullsht.

    This clearly shows you have no clue about research in any area, let alone medicine.

    Every human body and it’s geans are designed in its own unique way.

    You can’t even spell the simple word – genes. This does not look like a harmless typo that happens with the best of us. It just looks like you are typing a word you have no practice in typing.

    What exactly do you know about genetics? What texts did you study on the topic? You actually think that the fact of genetic variation is news to the author or anyone doing medical research?

    So if those damn research papers says something about Yoga being nothing, then its because Yoga is beyond those kind of studies!

    Scientifically-illiterate people like you think that if science shows that your beliefs are wrong, it is the job of science to catch up to your ignorance, not that you need further education.

    The beauty of science emerges when it turns our beliefs upside down, not when it simply confirms our preconceptions.

    Casually or gleefully dismissing science and research does not make it look like you are so wise that you are beyond science. It just reveals that you never had proper training and education – regardless of paper degrees. If you did have the training and education, no one is stopping you from properly publishing counter arguments, with your own quantitative case.

    This board (and others on this site) is filled with people like you who studied Biology (only because it was a required course in school) only until they are about 16-old kids, that too with mediocre abilities at best, to at most regurgitate something in the exam, and yet somehow in their own minds imagine that they have worthwhile opinions to share on the state on the scientific method or medicine, just because they read a blog or a book. You don’t! All you are doing is presenting a cavalcade of abject ignorance.

    There are thousand and millions of ancient texts and philosophies about Yoga and its effects.

    What “thousand and millions”? Idiotic statements like this show that you have not actually read
    any actual ancient texts on Yoga. Go ahead list which of these ANCIENT Yoga texts that you have actually bothered to read. Did you read even ONE – cover to cover?

    real criticism is you commenting about my degree or certificate!

    Oh! Is your pride hurt? Then perhaps you should have thought for a second before engaging in vitriol below.

    Till then shut all narrowed minds and filthy mouths of yours!

    People with an actual doctorate don’t conduct themselves like petulant juveniles. They instead talk like Dr. Indranath just above.

    If you purchased a doctorate from a degree mill, it is best to hide the fact, not wave it along your name. If you stick the letters Dr in front of your name, you will be held to a very different standard. Don’t use them unless you have the intellectual capacity to back those letters. And if you do have a degree from a proper institution and still lack the ability to demonstrate any habits of scholarly discourse, you are being a disgrace to the said institution – which one will it be?

    This also goes for other cardboard holders above like Shreejan Sita.

    Just so this isn’t still clear: this isn’t about disagreeing with the author, you are most welcome to do so. But there is a proper method for that. This is about quantitative facts, not rhetoric and posturing. This is about completely lacking any ability for scholarly discourse, while claiming to have doctorates. Expect to be called out for that.

  • Excellent compilation. The author however has confused between the terms “NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF EFFECT/BENEFIT” and “EVIDENCE OF NO BENEFIT”. When a systematic review concludes that a treatment is beneficial – it indicates that there is no need for further research and that the treatment can be used as standard of care. When a systematic review concludes that the treatment is not beneficial (EVIDENCE OF NO EFFECT) then the treatment should not be used. When a systematic review concludes “NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF BENEFIT” it indicates that there is a gap in our knowledge base and further studies are necessary. Most treatments will fall in this category and when a physician decides to use the treatment, the uncertainty of benefit is factored in along with the costs, side effects and patient preferences. There is no need to take extreme stance, but interpret the data unbiased.

  • One very important point to be noted here is, if yoga can cure diseases. With the data available, the conclusion was arrived that it does not cure diseases. If there is any scientific data available to dispute the claim, it would be better to make a counter claim so that there can be a healthy discussion. I feel a lot of unnecessary criticisms about the qualifications of people and their calibre in making comments were posted here, which I believe is very unfortunate. When we are talking about a scientific paper in a forum like this, I believe it would be better if we restrain ourselves from making personal attacks.

  • @deb
    A random trash blog, pretending to be a center of science and paying homage to a late woo peddler, along with other woo peddlers? What about it?

    “Para-psychology” is not a science. It has not produced a single FACT till date. If anyone says he/she is a para-psychologist, it just means they are mystics and quacks, not actual scientists. But they do have plenty of success exploiting people with half-baked understanding of science.

    Everyone considers Japan with regards to technical ingenuity and they are indeed good at that. However, Japan is also home to plenty of pseudoscience (Mikao Usui’s Reiki is the best known Japanese quackery) and even cults (Aum Shinrikyo being the worst – which, like the guy you linked, also combined Hinduism, Buddhism and Yoga). There are many more like him.

    Yoga, Reiki, Qigong are just antiquated eastern vitalistic belief systems.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitalism

    And the West had its own ideas of vitalism, although few fall for those now. The money now is in marketing oriental vitalism. It is more “exotic” for the western audience.

  • Dear Ravi, what a smart way to learn Yoga therapy! Your presentation proves that you are a Yoga therapy research scientist. I am glad to see your endeavour to prove your point that Yoga can cure any disease by posting negative statement that there is no scientific evidence that Yoga can cure diseases. I appreciate your effort. You have called Yoga – a pseudoscience on the basis of your false understanding about science. Can you answer me, what is science? How it is created and works? Who created science? Do you know any of the research methods implied till date for so called scientific research?
    Though it is proven that RR=CR=BMR=DR=PR=HR=UFR……by so called medical science as those are easy to analyse, I am not satisfied with it though it proves Yoga to be highly effective in maintaining complete health.
    Do you know one thing that Yoga is not a quantitative or analytical science but a qualitative and natural science. There is no scope for quantitative or analytical research in Yoga while in modern medicine is. One size fits all is the basis of research in modern medicine while in Yoga there is no such thing, all are different at every aspects of life according to Yoga as Yoga sees a person as creation of nature and not a laboratory.
    Human – emotions = Null
    How can one measure emotions? Experiences? Memory? Positive or Negative thoughts? Ability of Special Senses? Power or energy for life? Will to live, to get cured? And such endless number of qualities of human being?
    There is no scope for such research in Yoga and that is why you need a Guru who can diagnose and heal you personally. For further readings, wait for few days till I finish my book on Yoga Therapy. All the best.

  • @Acharya Birju Maharaj

    Do you know one thing that Yoga is not a quantitative or analytical science but a qualitative and natural science.

    I have formal academic training in qualitative research. I spent years on it at a university. You, on the other hand, seemed to have at best, read a few passages about it.

    You seem to be under the impression that hand-waving without any clarity of thought and critical vetting is qualitative research. It isn’t. You are confusing pseudo-science, the only thing you do have familiarity with, with actual qualitative research.

    You are not excused from critical inquiry (look it up) in any research – quantitative or qualitative, and qualitative research is also analytical, just not always rigorously quantitatively so. Also, many researchers combine the methods – they are not as dichotomous as you think they are. You can’t dig in and say, this is beyond numbers. Some questions necessarily require hard numbers. If you ask: does Yoga “cure” (or even help better manage) diabetes, the answer can only be answered quantitatively. If the question is: What are the beliefs of yoga practitioners on the practice of yoga and its effects on their diabetes?, then yes, you can do an open-ended, narrative based study, although even that can have a quantitative component – to for instance, more finely explore the relative frequency of certain component beliefs.

    But you seem to think that testimonies are valid science to answer the: “does it work?” question. If that is indeed your belief, you completely lack any understanding of the issues in health care research. This is pretty much science 101.

    Hint: If you are peddling testimonies of “cures”, rather than statistically sound evidence, you are a Quack. Next, don’t ask me for a definition of a Quack. Look it up.

    Let’s replace Yoga with VooDoo. Using terms from another culture removes certain blinders people have. The question – Does VooDoo work? requires quantitative data. But what do Haitians think about Voodoo curing them? – you can do a qualitative research on that. You can find hundreds of Haitians who will tell you that Voodoo cured them of all sorts of diseases – good for your qualitative report. But that does not at all answer the question, does it actually cure?. Are you getting this at all? I don’t have high hopes, since you seem to lack the pre-requisites.

    You also seem to lack an understanding of the term “natural science”, esp. the use of the word “natural”. The minute something brings in metaphysical terms like prana and chakra, it is no longer “natural” and when the said ideas are not discardable by review, it becomes a dogma. You can have your own personal definitions of what “natural science” means and co-opt the term, but that isn’t the consensus understanding of the term.

    why you need a Guru who can diagnose and heal you personally

    You first need a proper university Guru (y’know, an actual Guru, not a pretend Guru like you) to teach you the basics of how to think.

    There is no scope for such research in Yoga and that is why you need a Guru

    Another translation: Don’t think critically and ask for mathematical evidence, just be a lemming and gimme money.

    For further readings, wait for few days till I finish my book on Yoga Therapy.

    Please take your time. It is not as if any one here is waiting to read the long form versions of your uninformed tripe.

  • Dear Ravi,
    Thanks for the justification of my stand. Our basics are different and opposite to each other. You are a blind researcher and I am the researcher of blind !
    Sorry. No offence!!!

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  • @Acharya Birju Maharaj

    You are a blind researcher and I am the researcher of blind !

    Acharya,
    Maharaj,
    “researcher of blind”

    just like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh who proclaims himself on his website to be…

    Saint
    Scientist
    Feminist
    Superb Medic
    Nutritionist

    It must be fun being a “guru” and freely bestowing titles on yourself, as soon as a few suckers are available to follow.

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