Yoga is a legitimate component of complementary and alternative medicine, according to a statement from the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – a division of the National Institutes of Health. The NCCAM believes yoga is “generally considered to be safe in healthy people when practiced appropriately.”
The NCCAM doesn’t endorse yoga as a way to prevent or cure any health condition. It does concede that based on clinical research, doing yoga might improve your mood, elevate your sense of well-being and counteract your brain’s ability to create chemicals that produce stress. The NCCAM also says yoga might increase lung capacity, improve muscle relaxation and result in a higher muscle to fat ratio, as well as reduce anxiety and alleviate insomnia.
NCAAM Funds Yoga Research
The NCCAM funds research to discover and confirm the benefits of yoga. According to its website, research topics under investigation include yoga’s effect on blood pressure, chronic low-back pain and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as depression, diabetes risk and HIV. The Research funded by the NCCAM is also investigating yoga’s effect on immune function, inflammatory arthritis and knee osteoarthritis along with insomnia, multiple sclerosis and smoking cessation.
Risks of Yoga
If you have a health condition, talk with your health practitioner before taking your first yoga class. There are myriad health benefits from yoga, but the NCCAM wants the public to know there are risks, too. As recommended by the NCCAM, medical conditions contraindicated for yoga include, but are not limited to, disc disease of the spine, extremely high or low blood pressure, glaucoma, retinal detachment, fragile or atherosclerotic arteries, risk of blood clots, ear problems, severe osteoporosis, or cervical spondylitis. Communicate any necessary health information to your yoga instructor before class, so he can suggest possible modifications to your routine.