"This video provides important information on the safety and usefulness of yoga and also insights into how scientists study this commonly used health practice," Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, director of National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, said in a statement.
There is a growing body of evidence yoga may be beneficial for low-back pain, the NCCAM said. It is generally considered to be safe in healthy people when practiced appropriately, under the guidance of a well-trained instructor, but those with high blood pressure, glaucoma and sciatica, or women who are pregnant should modify or avoid some yoga poses, Briggs said.
"Everyone's body is different, and yoga postures should be modified based on individual abilities. Inform your instructor about any medical issues you have, and ask about the physical demands of yoga," Briggs said. "If you're thinking about practicing yoga, be sure to talk to your healthcare providers. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health."
The video, available at http://nccam.nih.gov/video/yoga, highlights the work of two researchers -- George Salem of the University of Southern California, who uses innovative technology to examine how older adults use their muscles and joints in certain yoga postures; and Karen Sherman of Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, who focuses on how yoga may be a beneficial for people with chronic low-back pain.