Research Alert

Background: The popularity of yoga and the understanding of its potential health benefits have recently increased. Unfortunately, not everyone can easily engage in in-person yoga classes. Over the past decade, the use of remotely delivered yoga has increased in real-world applications. However, the state of the related scientific literature is unclear.

Objective: This scoping review aimed to identify gaps in the literature related to the remote delivery of yoga interventions, including gaps related to the populations studied, the yoga intervention characteristics (delivery methods and intervention components implemented), the safety and feasibility of the interventions, and the preliminary efficacy of the interventions.

Methods: This scoping review was conducted in accordance with the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Item for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) guidelines. Scientific databases were searched throughout April 2021 for experimental studies involving yoga delivered through technology. Eligibility was assessed through abstract and title screening and a subsequent full-article review. The included articles were appraised for quality, and data were extracted from each article.

Results: A total of 12 studies of weak to moderate quality were included. Populations varied in physical and mental health status. Of the 12 studies, 10 (83%) implemented asynchronous delivery methods (via prerecorded material), 1 (8%) implemented synchronous delivery methods (through videoconferencing), and 1 (8%) did not clearly describe the delivery method. Yoga interventions were heterogeneous in style and prescribed dose but primarily included yoga intervention components of postures, breathing, and relaxation and meditation. Owing to the heterogeneous nature of the included studies, conclusive findings regarding the preliminary efficacy of the interventions could not be ascertained.

Conclusions: Several gaps in the literature were identified. Overall, this review showed that more attention needs to be paid to yoga intervention delivery methods while designing studies and developing interventions. Decisions regarding delivery methods should be justified and not made arbitrarily. Studies of high methodological rigor and robust reporting are needed.

Journal Link: Journal of Medical Internet Research

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Journal of Medical Internet Research