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S17: Yoga as Preventive Medicine: Rationale and Research

10:30 - 12:00, Tuttle, Terrace Level

Sat Bir Khalsa (1), Holger Cramer (2), Chris Steeter (3), Andreas Michalsen (4)

(1): Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, United States          

(2): University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

(3): Boston University School of Medicine, United States

(4): The Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics at Charité University Berlin, Germany



Yoga is rooted in Indian philosophy and has been a part of traditional Indian spiritual practice for millennia. Regardless of its spiritual origins, yoga has become a popular route to physical and mental well-being and has been adapted for use in complementary and integrative medicine internationally. In the latter setting, yoga is most often practiced in its traditional format including physical postures and exercises, breath control, deep relaxation and meditation/mindfulness techniques. In western societies, yoga is gaining increased popularity as a therapeutic practice. In 2007, about 6.1% of the U.S. population reported that they had practiced yoga for health purposes, an increase from the 5.1% prevalence in 2002, making it one of the therapies with the most rapid increase in prevalence Accordingly, yoga’s potential as a therapeutic intervention has been explored in a growing number of clinical trials to date. However, yoga is now often used not only for secondary but also for primary prevention of physical and mental conditions and this development is paralleled by increased research on yoga as preventive medicine. The purpose of this symposium is to present a comprehensive overview on scientific research on yoga for primary prevention. Presenters will review the scientific evidence for yoga-based interventions in the prevention of both medical and psychological conditions, and in stress-related and lifestyle diseases (such as cardiovascular conditions, obesity and diabetes); in particular research evidence from single high-quality clinical trials as well as from comprehensive meta-analyses will be reviewed. The psychophysiological and neuroscientific evidence for underlying mechanisms will be reviewed and discussed as will recent trends and developments and future directions for this field of research. Presenters will also describe highlights of their own ongoing yoga research initiatives to further illustrate these concepts and approaches.