The truth about yoga

By Dana Sullivan

Claim:
Yoga reduces lower-back pain. | TRUE
Several studies suggest that yoga can help ease the ache. One of the most recent, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2005, found that yoga does an even better job at relieving lower-back pain than traditional exercises.

Health.com: 4 ways yoga relieves low back pain

Claim: Yoga can help you lose weight. | TRUE
How much depends on the type, how often you do it, and your diet (of course). More-athletic styles-most notably ashtanga, a.k.a. power yoga-burn more calories and help build more muscle (which translates into an even higher number of calories torched) than more-meditative versions. A 150-pound woman can work off more than 460 calories during a single hour of power yoga (versus around 170 calories for a traditional yoga session). Many celebrities, including Serena Williams, love how yoga helps them stay in shape.

Health.com: Blast off fat with yoga!

Claim: Yoga cures asthma. | FALSE
Many asthma patients believe doing certain types of breathing techniques can help reduce their symptoms. But research published in the medical journal Thorax suggests that yogic breathing isn't one of them: Participants who used a device that mimicked the breathing technique pranayama saw no improvement in their asthma symptoms.

Claim: Yoga makes your skin look younger. | FALSE
We've seen books and Web sites that make this claim, but yoga alone can't improve your skin (although it can relax your facial muscles). Making healthy yogic choices, however, like exercising, going easy on the alcohol, and getting enough rest, certainly can't hurt.

Health.com: 7 ways you're aging your skin

Claim:
Yoga can ease carpal tunnel pain. | TRUE
In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that a yoga regimen can help relieve pain and improve grip strength in people with carpal tunnel syndrome.