Yoga has been found to be beneficial in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, along with a host of other problems.
International Yoga Day will be held for the first time on 21 June. In a statement ahead of the day, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: "Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.
"Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change."
While solving the world's problems may be a slight overstatement, the practice has been found to be beneficial in a number of studies. To mark the event, IBTimes UK looks at some of the research about yoga and its benefits.
Yoga and meditation 'Reduce risk of depression in pregnant women by 40%'
A study by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder in the US recently found meditation can reduce the risk of depression in pregnant women by 40%. Published in the journal Archives of Women's Mental Health, lead author Sona Dimidjian said: "It's important for pregnant women who are at high risk of depression to have options for treatment and prevention. For some women, anti-depressant medication is truly a lifesaver, but for others, concerns about side effects and possible impacts to foetal development may cause them to prefer a non-pharmacological intervention."
Yoga shown to help relieve stress disorders And migraine
Two studies found practising yoga helps relieve stress disorders and migraine. In the latter, scientists found practising yoga regularly resulted in 1.4 fewer migraines per month that were less severe than normal. They also lasted for significantly shorter periods.
In the other study, researchers asked solders to practise yoga. All participants registered lower anxiety, reduced respiration rates and other post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
Daily meditation as effective for depression and anxiety as antidepressants
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently found mediating for half-an-hour every day can be as effective as taking antidepressants for improving depression and anxiety symptoms.
They focused on 47 clinical trials, with over 3,500 patients suffering from health issues, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, diabetes, cancer and chronic pain. Madhav Goyal, lead author of the study, said: "A lot of people use meditation, but it's not a practice considered part of mainstream medical therapy for anything. But in our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants."
Yoga helps schizophrenia, ADHD and depression
Scientists from Duke University Medical Centre found practising yoga can have positive effects on people suffering from depression, sleep complaints, ADHD and schizophrenia.
The team reviewed over 100 studies, focusing on 16 high-quality controlled papers that looked at the effects of yoga on people with mental health problems. Study author Murali Doraiswam said: "The search for improved treatments, including non-drug based, to meet the holistic needs of patients is of paramount importance and we call for more research into yoga as a global priority. If the promise of yoga on mental health was found in a drug, it would be the best-selling medication worldwide."
Yoga as breast cancer therapy: Reduces stress and tiredness during radiation treatment
Yoga has been found to improve the quality of life in women with breast cancer by reducing stress and tiredness during radiation therapy. The research, published in The Journal Of Clinical Oncology, found that women who incorporated the exercise into their treatment plans were better able to carry out their daily activities and had improved health.
Lead author Lorenzo Cohen said: "Combining mind and body practices that are part of yoga clearly have tremendous potential to help patients manage the psychosocial and physical difficulties associated with treatment and life after cancer, beyond the benefits of simple stretching."