It would be great if I could post this link to this study and say, “researchers conclude that yoga is great for hypertension!” But I can’t. What the researchers of this brand new systematic review have concluded is that the the wide world of what is called “yoga” out there, makes it difficult to make such a sweeping statement. And, there are too many different variables in how the research has been conducted. Hence the typical “need for more research” in the conclusion. While it’s great that they recommend yoga as an adjunctive therapy, they can’t recommend it whole-heartedly – not until more conclusive and clinically rigorous research is undertaken.
IMHO, the underlying problem with the research is the yoga community’s need for better definitions. We need to differentiate between fitness based and therapeutic yoga. We need to be really intentional about the mechanisms – the downregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the stimulation of the vagus nerve, improved lymphatic function, improved pre-frontal cortex, insula and anterior cingulate cortex function and structure, etc. – to really pinpoint the difference between exercise and therapeutic yoga.
It’s great if people want to research fitness-based yoga. But I wouldn’t expect results much different than those of exercise studies. However the results of yoga studies focused on shifting these specific physiologic functions in order to access deep inner healing will be very convincing and pave the way for yoga to be a sought after modality in the health care community.