National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health

Información en Español

Health Topics A-Z

Text version of Yoga as a Complementary Health Approach


Yoga Is One of the Top 10 Complementary Health Approaches

More than 13 million adults in the U.S. practiced yoga in the previous year.1

Yoga use increased from 5.1% to 6.1% between 2002 and 2007.1

Why People Practice Yoga2

58% do it to maintain health and well-being

16% use it to treat specific medical conditions

10.5% use it for musculoskeletal conditions

Of those who used yoga for specific conditions, 22% said their doctor recommended it

Back pain is the number one reason people use complementary health practices3

Yoga’s Impact on Low-Back Pain

Back pain is the number one reason people use complementary health practices. Studies found people practicing yoga who experience low-back pain had:

  • Significantly less disability, pain, and depression after 6 months than patients in standard care.4
  • More pain relief than from a self-care book.5
  • Better function than usual medical care.6

Practice Yoga Safely

Follow these tips to minimize your risk of injury:

  • Talk to your care provider
  • Find a trained and experienced yoga practitioner
  • Adapt poses to your individual needs and abilities

September 2013

To learn more, visit

Back to Full Infographic: Yoga as a Complementary Health Approach

1 (299KB PDF)






* Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader.

This page last modified September 24, 2017