There may be more to the ancient practice of yoga than you realize.

Yoga is a form of exercise that has been around for about 5000 years, and for good reason.
The practice of yoga combines controlled breathing, strength, balance, and flexibility, with focus & serenity.
The combination of physical activity and tranquility delivers many known health benefits, such as:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety, depression, and pain caused by chronic illness
  • Increased muscle tone, and range of motion
  • Weight loss
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Increased sense of well-being

For many, doing yoga elicits something called the relaxation response. The relaxation response is a physiological state of calmness produced by the use of relaxation techniques like meditation and breath awareness.

Now there may be some new reasons to love yoga!
In a pilot study that was published on April 30, 2015, in the open access journal Plos One, researchers studied the effects of the relaxation response on 39 patients who suffered from either Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease.* Patients continued to receive standard care for their IBS/IBD.  Over the course of nine weeks, participants were taught, and practiced, a variety of methods meant to produce the relaxation response. The program included breath focus, single-pointed focus, mindful awareness, and yoga!

Subjects were assessed before, during, and after the study. The results were amazing. Over the course of the investigation, participants reported a steady improvement in quality of life, and mental well-being.  They also reported a decrease in symptoms, and an improved tolerance for the pain that is often associated with these 2 illnesses.

Additionally, researchers continued to see improvement, even a month after the study concluded.

While this was only a pilot study, it indicates exiting possibilities for the future of medicine and for yoga!

* The published study was called: Genomic and Clinical Effects Associated with a Relaxation Response Mind-Body Intervention in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Braden Kuo  , Manoj Bhasin  , Jolene Jacquart, Matthew A. Scult, Lauren Slipp, Eric Isaac Kagan Riklin, Veronique Lepoutre, Nicole Comosa, Beth-Ann Norton, Allison Dassatti, Jessica Rosenblum, Andrea H. Thurler, Brian C. Surjanhata, Nicole N. Hasheminejad, Leslee Kagan, Ellen Slawsby, Sowmya R. Rao, Eric A. Macklin, Gregory L. Fricchione, Herbert Benson, Towia A. Libermann , Joshua Korzenik , John W. Denninger  [ view less ]

Published: April 30, 2015DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123861