Yoga as exercise or alternative medicine
Yoga is a traditional physical and mental discipline originating in India. In a non-religious context, it has become popular as a kind of low-impact physical exercise, and is also used for therapeutic purposes as an adjunct to western medicine. Although most schools of yoga include meditation in their technical repetoire, in practice, only about half actually teach it, the other half focusing exclusively on the physical asanas or poses of yoga. When meditation is taught in a yoga studio, it is generally practiced for a small proportion of the total time compared to the practice of asanas. Yoga has been studied as an intervention for many conditions, including back pain, stress, and depression.
Both the meditative and the exercise components of yoga show promise for non-specific health benefits. Some yoga practitioners assert that yoga stimulates the flow of “life energy”, or prana, and can treat a wide variety of diseases, illnesses, and complaints.
A survey released in December 2008 by the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that yoga was the 6th most commonly used alternative therapy in the United States during 2007, with 6.1 percent of the population participating.
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