Are the Effects Of Yoga Proven? And How Did the Inventors of Asanas Know Their Benefits?

Someone in Quora asked, and is a two part question:  (follow me on Quora!)

1-   Are the effects of yoga scientifically proven?

Perhaps the biggest institute doing research in yoga these days is the Kayvalyadhama institute in India, which has done studies on the effect of asanas and pranayama, nauli, etc in many settings you can see kdham dot com slash research slash scientific.  They have been documenting the effects of yoga since the beginning of last century.

There is also Dr Dean Ornish, whom since the 90's, has been publishing studies  showing that a low fat diet and yoga can stabilize and even reverse arterial blockages in heart disease (from the book White Lama).  That is among other benefits of yoga.

So, yes, there are lots of studies out there, I would just be careful, because as the saying goes, the eye of the observer changes that which is observed depending on what the observant wants to say.

For me the best scientific research is to try things and see how they works for me.  Yoga has done wonders in my life, but, granted, I deviate.

2.- How did the inventors create the asanas and know their benefits?

The asanas are as old as you can imagine, since men moved he was stretching in some form or another.   The tradition indicates that in another time, when things were quieter and there was more time for reflection the world produced people of high intelligence, capable of "downloading" information.  This is how the asanas came to us, through these enlightened beings, if you want to believe that.

Then practitioners who used the technology (asanas, pranayama) for 70 years or more learned about the benefits and told us students.  For example Krishnamacharya (a man that practiced yoga for about 90 years) in his book Yoga Makaranda  tells you that a pose like the sited forward bend reduces fat around the stomach, calms the mind and massages the internal organs.  He should know, he practiced it for 90 years! or so...  He also does mention you should keep this pose for a long time (10 minutes or more).

Yoga is like a rabbit hole, there is a LOT to it.  

You start scratching the surface with questions like this, but when you get into the practice and start noticing the benefits in your own body (health, lustrous body, radiant eyes), then suddenly you wander if there is more, and there is.  Perhaps then pranayama (extension of breath and containment of life force) peaks your curiosity.

Then you learn more about cleansings (so you can do pranayama properly), about keeping your intestines clean, your inflammation levels low, your food intake to only what is necessary, etc.

You learn to set the odds in your favour of success.  You also get tempted to use your new powers of observation and concentration for material gain...

Slowly yoga changes you and you feel better, and if you are lucky you are able to get even more interested, and start learning of the mystical states...

It is said that if you imagined the best thing that could happen to you, (win an Oscar, marry your sweetheart, have all the wealth and power in the world, or whatever rocks your world), the mystical state is billions of times more satisfying than that.

Suddenly scientific studies are no longer necessary because now YOU are the scientist.

See you on the path.


  1. I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

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  2. Are there any good books to read on the scientific findings? This is one of my favorite posts of yours

  3. I dont know about specific books. I dream of visiting the Kayvalyadhama institute in India just for their library though... If you hear of any good such book let me know.


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