Adverse events associated with yoga: a systematic review of published case reports and case series

PLoS One. 2013 Oct 16;8(10):e75515. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075515. eCollection 2013.

Abstract

While yoga is gaining increased popularity in North America and Europe, its safety has been questioned in the lay press. The aim of this systematic review was to assess published case reports and case series on adverse events associated with yoga. Medline/Pubmed, Scopus, CAMBase, IndMed and the Cases Database were screened through February 2013; and 35 case reports and 2 case series reporting a total of 76 cases were included. Ten cases had medical preconditions, mainly glaucoma and osteopenia. Pranayama, hatha yoga, and Bikram yoga were the most common yoga practices; headstand, shoulder stand, lotus position, and forceful breathing were the most common yoga postures and breathing techniques cited. Twenty-seven adverse events (35.5%) affected the musculoskeletal system; 14 (18.4%) the nervous system; and 9 (11.8%) the eyes. Fifteen cases (19.7%) reached full recovery; 9 cases (11.3%) partial recovery; 1 case (1.3%) no recovery; and 1 case (1.3%) died. As any other physical or mental practice, yoga should be practiced carefully under the guidance of a qualified instructor. Beginners should avoid extreme practices such as headstand, lotus position and forceful breathing. Individuals with medical preconditions should work with their physician and yoga teacher to appropriately adapt postures; patients with glaucoma should avoid inversions and patients with compromised bone should avoid forceful yoga practices.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Eye / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal System / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Failure
  • Yoga*

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.