Impact of Yoga on Inflammatory Biomarkers: A Systematic Review

Biol Res Nurs. 2019 Mar;21(2):198-209. doi: 10.1177/1099800418820162. Epub 2018 Dec 20.


Background: Many chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, are associated with underlying chronic inflammatory processes. Literature reviews have analyzed a variety of integrative therapies and their relationships with chronic inflammation. This systematic review is unique in reporting solely on yoga's relationship with inflammation. Its purpose was to synthesize current literature examining the impact of yoga interventions on inflammatory biomarkers in adults with chronic inflammatory-related disorders.

Method: Searches of several electronic databases were conducted. Inclusion criteria were (a) English language, (b) sample age >18 years old, (c) yoga interventions involving postures with or without yoga breathing and/or meditation, and (d) measured inflammatory biomarkers.

Results: The final review included 15 primary studies. Of these, seven were rated as excellent and eight as average or fair. There was considerable variability in yoga types, components, frequency, session length, intervention duration, and intensity. The most common biomarkers measured were interleukin-6 ( n = 11), C-reactive protein ( n = 10), and tumor necrosis factor ( n = 8). Most studies reported positive effects on inflammatory biomarkers ( n = 11) from baseline to post yoga intervention. Analysis of the dose showed higher total dose (>1,000 min) resulted in greater improvements in inflammation.

Conclusion: This review suggests that yoga can be a viable intervention to reduce inflammation across a multitude of chronic conditions. Future studies with detailed descriptions of yoga interventions, measurement of new and well-established inflammatory biomarkers, and larger sample sizes are warranted to advance the science and corroborate results.

Keywords: biomarkers; chronic conditions; inflammation; review; yoga.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / therapy*
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Yoga*


  • Biomarkers