Yoga as therapy is the use of yoga as exercise, consisting mainly of postures called asanas, as a gentle form of exercise and relaxation applied specifically with the intention of improving health. This form of yoga is widely practised in classes, and may involve meditation, imagery, breath work (pranayama) and calming music as well as postural yoga.
At least three types of health claim have been made for yoga: magical claims for medieval haṭha yoga, including the power of healing; unsupported claims of benefits to organ systems from the practice of asanas; and more or less well supported claims of specific medical and psychological benefits from studies of differing sizes using a wide variety of methodologies.
Systematic reviews have found beneficial effects of yoga on low back pain and depression, but despite much investigation little or no evidence for benefit for specific medical conditions. Study of trauma-sensitive yoga has been hampered by weak methodology.
At least three different types of claim of therapeutic benefit have been made for yoga from medieval times onwards, not counting the more general claims of good health made throughout this period: magical powers, biomedical claims for marketing purposes, and specific medical claims. Neither of the first two are supported by reliable evidence. The medical claims are supported by evidence of varying quality, from case studies to controlled trials and ultimately systematic review of multiple trials.