Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

In Search of Yoga: Research Trends in a Western Medical Database

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

In Search of Yoga: Research Trends in a Western Medical Database

Article excerpt

Byline: Marcy. McCall

Context: The promotion of yoga practice as a preventative and treatment therapy for health outcomes in the western hemisphere is increasing rapidly. As the commercial success of yoga burgeons in popular culture, it is important to investigate the trends of yoga as a therapeutic intervention in academic literature. The free-access search engine, PubMed is a preeminent resource to identify health-related research articles published for academics, health practitioners and others. Aims: To report the recent yoga-related publications in the western healthcare context with particular interest in the subject and type of yoga titles. Materials and Methods: A bibliometric analysis to describe the annual trends in publication on PubMed from January 1950 to December 2012. Results: The number of yoga-related titles included in the PubMed database is limited until a marked increase 2000 and steady surge since 2007. Bibliometric analysis indicates that more than 200 new titles are added per annum since 2011. Systematic reviews and yoga trials are increasing exponentially, indicating a potential increase in the quality of evidence. Titles including pain management, stress or anxiety, depression and cancer conditions are highly correlated with yoga and healthcare research. Conclusions: The prevalence of yoga research in western healthcare is increasing. The marked increase in volume indicates the need for more systematic analysis of the literature in terms of quality and results.


With origins in 5,000 B.C.E. India, yoga combines specific postures ( asanas ), breathing techniques ( pranayama ), meditative techniques ( dhyana ), chants ( mantras ), and wisdom teachings ( sutras ) to encourage health and relaxation. [sup][1],[2] Following the worldwide commercial success of yoga, industry reports an increase in yoga participation since 2005 with over 30 million people practicing yoga for health benefits daily. [sup][3] As the number of yoga practitioners and yoga schools in the west increases, interpretations of the practice of yoga vary with several applications of spiritual, cultural, and therapeutic knowledge. [sup][4] The National Institutes of Health (US) and National Health Services (UK) describe yoga as a safe and effective intervention to increase strength, flexibility and balance, and treatment for high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains, depression, stress, and potentially asthma. [sup][5],[6] The purpose of this study is to investigate the prevalence of yoga research by subject and type in the context of a western healthcare database. Specifically, as the popularity of yoga practice for health in western populations continues to increase, do publication trends in yoga research indicate a similar surge in interest?

Materials and Methods

Bibliometric analysis of PubMed trends

A service offered by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed contains publication information of over 21 billion articles for biomedical literature with citations that include fields of biomedicine, behavioral sciences, chemical sciences and bioengineering. [sup][7] This database is most commonly used to source relevant articles for health professionals and academics in the western hemisphere, primarily because of its subject focus, abundance of material and free-access to medical abstracts in the English language.

Research instrument

The annual statistics of PubMed results for yoga-related research is generated from an automated online tool [sup][8] and key-term search strategy (Appendix A) [SUPPORTING:1].

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

A preliminary analysis indicates the first recorded yoga article in PubMed dates to 1948 authored by E. Abegg with an unknown title, [sup][9] while the first full-text yoga article appears to be written for 1964. [sup][10] Therefore, to ensure a comprehensive and pragmatic search any yoga-related publication from the years 1950 to 2012 is included. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.