Research has shown that yoga can be used to control physical functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, metabolism, body temperature, brain waves, and skin resistance. This can result in improved physical fitness, lower levels of stress, and increased feelings of relaxation and well-being.
According to a report to the National Institutes of Health, there is also some evidence to suggest yoga may be helpful when used with conventional medical treatment to help relieve some of the symptoms linked to cancer, asthma, diabetes, drug addiction, high blood pressure, heart disease, and migraine headaches. Other studies have shown limited benefit. Yoga may also help to reduce cholesterol levels when used with diet and exercise. Randomized clinical trials have shown that yoga can help relieve the pain of arthritis and may also help anxiety, stress, and depression.
One small clinical trial showed that people with lymphoma reported fewer sleep disturbances, fell asleep more quickly, and slept longer after a seven-week yoga program, compared to patients who did not participate in yoga. However, the patients showed no improvement in depression or fatigue. More well-designed research studies are needed to confirm all of these findings. Recent studies of cancer survivors, especially women who have had breast cancer, suggest yoga may help improve several aspects of quality of life.
American Cancer Society, 2008