Yoga is a tradition that is thousands of years old, with many claims of benefits and powers. However, there is still little research and evidence-based evaluations of these often-espoused claims. Yoga and meditation are also gaining more respect from the medical community, who want evidence and research that support these claims.
The thing is, research sounds impressive, but is really quite simple to carry out, as Kelly McGonigal explains during this talk at the 2013 Yoga Service Conference at the Omega Institute. As a health psychologist, lecturer at Stanford and leading mind-body health expert, McGonigal knows how to work the system. In this clip, she introduces what evidence a yoga teacher may need to collect if they want to find out what works and what the benefits are. This evidence could determine whether or not a service-oriented project in, say, a hospital or prison may get funding.
So what matters to potential funders? McGonigal outlines the following: feasability of programs; key outcomes; and money (cost/savings). Teachers must be willing to learn and communicate the ROI, or “return on investment” of yoga programs in institutional settings. Sure, we can intuit that yoga is good for people – but as a community, we have very little to demonstrate this.
According to McGonical, this is where we’re at with yoga and meditation research: there are a lot of places where it hasn’t been tried or hasn’t been demonstrated to be acceptable. Simply demonstrating that you can offer a yoga class in a particular setting and people will come is actually real research at this stage in our community.
McGonigal gives an example of a feasibility study for a yoga program, showing a low-tech and DIY way that people in the yoga community can do some simple research with a wide-ranging impact.
Watch this excerpt from her talk for the full story: