Is Yoga a Placebo? (Explained)

Is Yoga a Placebo? (Explained)

Yoga can yield many positive changes in our lives, ranging from happier, more fulfilled stress-free lives to a more physically active life, where our blood flows better and when we get better sleep, something that many dismiss. 

But these small changes are what contribute to building our greatest and becoming our greatest selves. Sure, yoga isn’t the only path to get there but it’s certainly a good path. 

With all the acclaimed benefits of yoga, is it all a placebo, or is there actually any substance to it? Yoga, just like meditation, has gained more popularity over the years, and even those in accredited positions such as physicians many times recommend yoga as a  way to induce life-turning changes in patients. 

Given that it’s so mainstream, and that it yields so many positive results for so many people, with millions of practitioners, it’s safe to assume that there is a substantial benefit to yoga, that isn’t just limited to a psychological effect or a preconceived notion, but actually does promote longevity and overall well being, as long as it’s done right. 

Yoga is accessible to you virtually at any time of the day because to get started, with the bare minimum, you only need a couple of minutes. For me personally, two minutes was enough to get the ball rolling and see changes in my academic performance back in the day.

Not that that’s necessarily enough for everyone, since everyone is different, and the more you practice yoga, the better results you can expect. 

Physical Poses

Yoga isn’t just a mental thing. It could be, but it isn’t what’s often associated with the practices. It often combines physical poses with a certain breathing pattern. 

In many ways, it’s similar to exercise but generally not that intense and can help you be more flexible over time, which can help preserve your body in a relatively good state before it starts deteriorating. 

It could be the difference between feeling hindered later down the line and having an active, happy life where you’re fully energized. Thus, calling yoga a placebo effect is like calling exercise a placebo effect. 

Now, as with anything, it can take some time to see the results that yoga has to offer, but as long as you enjoy the practice, the less dependent you are on clinging to a particular outcome. It’s about building that momentum and reaching a sweet spot between relaxation and finding a pose where your body feels better. 

I like to see yoga as a relaxation exercise that also helps me in other areas. In my case, yoga has been helpful for me in the sense of giving me an easier time with my studies. 

Almost as if everything was clearer, but something similar can be said about exercise, because it declutters the mind and how you make your body feel could reflect in your mind, and vice versa. 

In the case of yoga, it explicitly is meant to bring the body and mind together, finding that perfect balance and pose where, if we keep it up throughout the day, or at least, get used to being in certain poses, they become second nature to us, but helps us in living a healthier life we could’ve missed out on if we didn’t practice yoga. 

Not Religious

Yoga can be traced back to a religious one, and many would associate yoga with religion, and while that can be the case, it doesn’t have to. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, yoga can still bring you results that are gonna end up making you feel better off than if you would’ve chosen not to do yoga.

For many, however, it’s a matter of faith, yoga has its roots in Hinduism. Needless to say, regardless of your beliefs, as long as you stick with the yoga practice, you will reap the rewards it has to offer. 

Placebo vs. Being Open to the Experience

Many enter yoga with preconceived notions or certain expectations and this can be a double edge sword, but that’s also where the placebo stems from. There’s a strong link between thinking something will happen to you if you do a certain thing. 

For instance, taking a sugar pill and feeling more energized, when in reality it’s just a regular sugar pill, but our belief systems are strong and can influence our experience in a certain way. But I personally like to be open to the experience of what yoga has to offer. 

One of the most common benefits is improved sleep, being more tolerant to stress and stressful situations as well as feeling more energetic, without relying on coffee. 

That’s the beauty of yoga, that it’s natural and you don’t depend on any external or addictive substance to see results, instead, you are relying on your own body, good poses, and sometimes even a breathing pattern to see great results. 

Now, I don’t recommend being outcome dependent as everything would happen in its due time, assuming you do things right and don’t try to rush things – the more you enjoy the practice, the less you have to care about the timeframe to get results.

Why the Placebo Effect Can Be Good For Yoga

The placebo effect attaches your belief to the practice being a certain way, which can play in your favor and help you stick with it if you are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you start out. 

I mention this because, with anything we do, it’s only natural to want results immediately, but at the very least, with the placebo, you are attaching a certain belief and faith that can keep you going and even allow you to experience the core benefits of yoga. 

Not that yoga is anything stressful or anything you have to suffer with, necessarily, it’s normal to expect results immediately, it’s worth having healthy expectations and understanding that yoga is a process, but the wait is rewarding.

Measuring Yoga

One way to measure the results with yoga is to compare how you feel after one month of doing yoga consistently vs. a month without it. 

Of course, that’s just an example, I don’t recommend going that long without a practice, and if you are enjoying the yoga and seeing results that line up with what you want or need, you should keep going by all means. 

It’s a good cycle to be in you generally won’t want to get out of. But you can certainly compare how you feel overall and if you notice any changes after a relatively short-time frame. Everyone is on a different path, for some it will take longer and for others it will take shorter. 

Your point of comparison might be as low as a week with and a few days without. But your results and how you feel after the session will always be the best determiners on whether you should continue with the practice or not, and ultimately, only you can tell. 

But most that practice yoga on a consistent basis won’t revert back to a life without yoga. In a way, yoga can give us a sense of purpose and achievement, and no reasonable individual would turn away from that. 

We all want some kind of feedback that what we are doing is working and that we are on the right path. Changes with yoga don’t need to be big to make it worthwhile, small changes such as feeling more energetic go a long way in building towards greatness.