Injuries and other adverse events associated with yoga practice: A systematic review of epidemiological studies

J Sci Med Sport. 2018 Feb;21(2):147-154. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2017.08.026. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


Objectives: To systematically assess the prevalence of yoga-associated injuries and other adverse events in epidemiological studies.

Design: Systematic review of observational studies.

Methods: Medline/PubMed, Scopus, the Cochrane Library, and IndMed were searched through October 2016 for epidemiological studies assessing the prevalence of adverse events of yoga practice or comparing the risk of any adverse events between yoga practitioners and non-yoga practitioners.

Results: Nine observational studies with a total 9129 yoga practitioners and 9903 non-yoga practitioners were included. Incidence proportion of adverse events during a yoga class was 22.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]=21.1%-24.3%); 12-months prevalence was 4.6% (95%CI=3.8%-5.4%), and lifetime prevalence ranged from 21.3% (95%CI=19.7%-22.9%) to 61.8% (95%CI=52.8%-70.8%) of yoga practitioners. Serious adverse events occurred in 1.9% (95%CI=1.4%-2.4%). The most common adverse events related to the musculoskeletal system; the most common injuries were sprains and strains. Compared to non-yoga practitioners, yoga practitioners had a comparable risk of falls (odds ratio [OR]=0.90; 95%CI=0.76-1.08), and falls-related injuries (OR=1.04; 95%CI=0.83-1.29), and higher risk of meniscus injuries (OR=1.72; 95%CI=1.23-2.41).

Conclusions: A considerable proportion of yoga practitioners experienced injuries or other adverse events; however most were mild and transient and risks were comparable to those of non-yoga practitioners. There is no need to discourage yoga practice for healthy people. People with serious acute or chronic illnesses should seek medical advice before practicing yoga.

Keywords: Complementary therapies; Cross-sectional studies; Safety; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Factors
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology*
  • Sprains and Strains / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Yoga*