Current Approaches to Yoga in U.S. Medical Schools: Scoping Review of the Literature

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of integrative and complementary medicine








education; health education; integrative medicine; mindfulness; yoga


Yoga is described as a system of physical and mental practices originating from India that connects mind, body, and spirit with techniques such as physical exercises, breathing, and meditation to promote health and well-being. Medical students experience an immense amount of stress that unfortunately continues throughout their residency and careers. Yoga represents a tool to reduce stress and support medical student resilience. This study aims to evaluate the current approaches to yoga in U.S. medical schools. A scoping literature review was conducted using search terms such as "medical school," "medical student," "medical education," "yoga," "asana," "pranayama," and "mindfulness." The primary aim of the review was to examine if U.S. medical schools offer accessible yoga to medical students and the characteristics of those yoga programs. The search yielded 1313 primary articles. All titles and abstracts were screened for eligibility. Duplicate articles were removed, and 156 articles were reviewed independently by two authors. A total of eight articles met all the criteria. Yoga is offered in medical schools through three main models: recreational, research, and educational. All of the studies indicated various positive effects on medical students from these yoga programs, including in psychological states, perceived stress, and scores on medical knowledge assessments. Yoga aligns well with the objectives of medical education by combining physician resiliency, mindfulness, and education that can ultimately serve patients. Greater opportunities should be created to engage medical students in yoga through the length of their entire undergraduate and graduate medical training.