Yoga - Cincinnati VA Medical Center
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Cincinnati VA Medical Center



What is Yoga?

The word "yoga" comes from the ancient language of Sanskrit. "Yoga" literally means union or integration. The purpose of yoga is to unite the body, mind, and spirit. This leads to harmony, balance, and peace within oneself and with others.1 The word "yoga" also refers to the practices that help you get to this state of greater calm and peace. These practices work in part by increasing self-awareness. You may be most familiar with the physical postures, which are called asanas. That's because they are the part of yoga practiced most often in the United States (U.S.) and they are easy to show in photos. However, these postures are just one part of the entire system of yoga. Yoga also includes breathing and meditation practices. It can include teachings on philosophy and nutrition as well. The main idea of all of these parts of yoga is to help people find a more balanced and peaceful state of mind and body. The various parts of yoga, including the postures, meditation, and breathing, offer a wide range of benefits related to Whole Health:

The physical part of yoga—the postures—gets the most attention in the news and in research. Like other forms of exercise, doing the postures is helpful. Yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, and balance. When you do yoga, you pay attention to your body’s position and your breathing. This increases your self-awareness. Research shows that yoga is helpful for low back pain. Research on yoga for other conditions is just getting started.

So far, research shows that yoga is helpful to:

    • Decrease pain in osteoarthritis
    • Improve balance in older adults
    • Control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes
    • Improve risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure
    • Decrease fatigue in patients with cancer and cancer survivors
    • Decrease menopausal hot flashes
    • Lose weight

Power of the Mind

Yoga is a true mind-body activity. The physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation in yoga help to bring the mind and body together. This leads to the relaxation response. This is the opposite of thestress response. Another name for the stress response is fight or flight.This means a high level of anxiety and tension. When people do yoga, they are often able to be more calm and relaxed rather than being in the fight or flight mode. Research on mental health conditions is still growing. So far, research suggests that yoga can help reduce depression and anxiety.


Yoga helps to decrease the stress response. And it increases the relaxation response. This helps to calm and quiet the mind and body, so that over time and with regular yoga practice, you can sleep better. There is growing research to show that yoga may help with sleep. There is one yoga technique called yoga nidra, or yoga sleep. It results in very deep relaxation and rest. Not all yoga classes teach yoga nidra.

Personal Development and Spirit & Soul

Since it began, yoga has included teachings and beliefs. For example, it includes teachings about peace. Ahimsa, or non-violence, is a well-known teaching. Even without learning these teachings, many people find that yoga increases their self-awareness. This may help personal spiritual growth, whatever that may be.

Family, Friends, & Coworkers

When we are more calm and relaxed, we are better able to respond rather than react to stress in our lives. Of course, we often have to deal with major stress in our relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. By helping manage stress, yoga can help our relationships. A research study even showed how yoga can improve well-being at work.

Food & Drink

Yoga practice increases self-awareness. When we are more self-aware, we can better sense when we are full, hungry, or whether we might eat for other reasons, such as feeling bored or stressed out. This is how yoga can help with weight management. 16,18 In addition to weight management, research also suggests that yoga can help people stop smoking.

LEARN about our other Phone-based Meditation Class on Mindful Meditation.

Yoga Nidra (iRest Mediation) class are available for Veterans. Attend a session at the medical center, a Community Based Outpatient Clinic or through telehealth on Thursday evenings at 8 pm EST
Please contact (513) 861-3100 ext. 4881 for more information and to get started.

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra or "yogi sleep" is a sleep-like state which yogis report to experience during their meditations. Yoga Nidra, lucid sleeping is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. Lucid dreaming is the Western term used to denote a practice similar to Yoga Nidra. The distinguishing difference is the degree to which one remains cognizant of the actual physical environment as opposed to a dream environment. In lucid dreaming, one is only (or mainly) cognizant of the dream environment, and have little or no awareness of our actual environment.

The goal of the Yoga Nidra program is to reduce symptoms of anxiety/PTSD, pain, depression, insomnia and anger. Two staff psychologists received training in Yoga Nidra and organized Yoga Nidra groups. Yoga Nidra is currently delivered at the facility in group format to Veterans diagnosed with PTSD and chronic pain.


Contact Info


  • Cincinnati VA, CBOC and TeleHealth

Contact Number(s)

  • 513-861-3100 Ext. 4881

Hours of Operation

  • 8 am to 4 pm