Skip to content

Fitness & Exercise

Strike a Pose

What are the real - and not so real - benefits of yoga?
Font Size
WebMD the Magazine - Feature

Claim: Yoga tones muscles and increases flexibility, strength, and stamina.
Science says: Yoga increases flexibility, strength, and stamina, but no studies show that it tones muscles. Still, tone is partially a function of nervous system stimulation of the muscle; any physical activity, done repeatedly, produces muscle tone.

Claim: Yoga reduces stress and tension.
Science says: It's true! Studies show both a reduction in perceived stress and a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate among yogis.

Claim: The twisting postures in yoga release harmful toxins from internal organs and boost the immune system.
Science says: No studies could be found to bolster such claims. There is some evidence showing that yoga postures may help reduce pain and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Claim: Yoga aids weight loss.
Science says: Any physical activity, coupled with controlled eating, aids weight loss. Different yoga methods -- vinyasa, hatha, and kundalini, to name a few -- are practiced at different speeds and strength levels, burning calories at different rates.

Claim: Yoga improves circulation, thereby reducing acne, the signs of aging, and other skin disorders.
Science says: No studies yet support these claims. Stress is commonly blamed for causing acne, but most doctors think it has little effect.

Claim: Yoga helps you "stay regular" by stimulating the digestive system.
Science says: A few studies report improvement in bowel patterns among yoga enthusiasts. The mechanism for this effect has not been studied; it's possible that a decrease in stress hormones may have a positive effect on intestinal motility and bowel movements.

Claim: Yoga can help reduce the cause and effects of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, colds, cancer, backaches, and more.
Science says: Some studies show that practicing yoga can reduce blood pressure, improve blood glucose in people with diabetes, improve mood, improve the pain and discomfort associated with chemotherapy for cancer patients, and reduce the pain from back problems.

Reviewed on September 01, 2005

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

pilates instructor
15 moves that get results.
woman stretching before exercise
How and when to do it.
couple working out
Moves you can do at home.
woman exercising
Strengthen your core with these moves.
man exercising
7 most effective exercises
Man looking at watch before workout
Overweight man sitting on park bench

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

pilates instructor
jogger running among flowering plants
woman walking
Taylor Lautner