Injury type: Chronic

Category: Lifestyle Options

Rating: No research

What is it?

Yoga originated in India over 2000 years ago. Yoga usually involves holding the body in a sequence of postures or asanas for a certain period of time, breathing exercises and meditation. These postures are done sequentially with the aim of increasing flexibility and strength. The breathing and meditation exercises are intended to calm and focus the mind and to develop greater awareness.

How does it work?

It is unclear exactly how yoga produces its healthful effects. Research suggests it may work like other mind-body therapies to reduce stress. While others believe that yoga promotes the release of endorphins (natural painkillers and mood elevators) from the brain. Studies show yoga may lower your heart rate and blood pressure, increase muscle relaxation and increase breathing capacity. It may also promote muscle lengthening and strengthening and good posture.

Is it effective?

There are no studies specifically assessing the effectiveness of yoga for whiplash. However, there is some evidence to suggest that yoga may be beneficial for the management of chronic neck pain. For example, a systematic review1 which investigated the effectiveness of exercise suggested that supervised Iyengar yoga is more effective than education and home exercise on short-term improvement in neck pain and disability for persistent grades I-II neck pain. Similarly, a systematic review2 explored the effectiveness of general whole-body physical exercise for chronic neck pain also reported that Iyengar yoga has positive impacts on pain intensity and neck disability, when compared to usual care (e.g. self-care or standard physiotherapy intervention). While these are encouraging findings, the current evidence base is limited to a handful of research studies which limits generatability of the findings.

Are there any disadvantages?

Some people may experience stiffness following yoga sessions, as their bodies adapt to different postures. Yoga may also lead to an injury if not practiced properly. It is important to practice yoga under the guidance of a trained professional, and seek advice from your treating practitioner prior to commencement.

Where do you get it?

Yoga teachers/classes are listed in the Yellow Pages.


The use of yoga following whiplash cannot be recommended because of a lack of scientific evidence. While there is emerging evidence for chronic neck pain, more research is required before concrete recommendations can be made.