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Yoga works at the level of wave particle duality of the body. By shifting from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode it can heal and help various conditions as below.
- Yoga can relieve chronic stress: A small study done at the University of Utah conducted in experienced yoga practitioners, people with fibromyalgia and healthy volunteers showed that yoga increased tolerance to stress. People who had a poorly regulated response to stress were also more sensitive to pain, while the yoga practitioners had the highest pain tolerance (Harvard Health).
- Yoga can reduce anxiety: Twelve sessions of regular hatha yoga exercise significantly reduced stress, anxiety and depression in women suggesting its role as complementary medicine, which also reduces treatment cost by reducing the use of drugs (Masoumeh Shohani, et al. The effect of yoga on stress, anxiety, and depression in women. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:21).
- Yoga can reduce depression: A study of older men, average age 61 years, with high levels of depression, presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in 2017 showed that following a twice-weekly hatha yoga program reduced the symptoms of depression after eight weeks of intervention; they also enjoyed the yoga classes (https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/new-study-finds-yoga-significantly-reduces-depression-in-male-veterans).
- Yoga can improve heart health: Yoga improves cardio-metabolic health including improved BMI, systolic BP, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and thus may reduce the risk of heart disease (Chu P, et al. The effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2016;23(3):291-307).
- Yoga can alleviate chronic low back pain: Yoga is a safe and effective intervention for chronic low back pain as it reduced functional disability and was more effective in reducing pain severity or “bothersomeness” of the chronic low back pain compared to usual care or no care (Chang DG, et al. Yoga as a treatment for chronic low back pain: A systematic review of the literature. J Orthop Rheumatol. 2016;3(1):1-8).
- Yoga can keep the brain healthy: Healthy elderly women who practiced hatha yoga for at least 8 years had greater cortical thickness in the left prefrontal cortex (lateral middle frontal gyrus, anterior superior frontal gyrus and dorsal superior frontal gyrus), which relates to cognitive behavior, compared to a group of matched controls. (Afonso RF, Balardin JB, Lazar S, et al. Greater cortical thickness in elderly female yoga practitioners-a cross-sectional study. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017;9:201).
- Yoga can help control anger: In a study of 152 participants from nine Swedish correctional facilities randomly assigned to a 10-week yoga group, yoga improved emotional well-being. Positive affective states (such as calm, relaxed, and content) increased, while negative affective states (such as hostile, upset and nervous) decreased (Kerekes N, et al. Yoga in correctional settings: a randomized controlled study. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:204).
- Yoga can improve balance and prevent falls: Yoga classes reduced self-reported falls and improved balance measures. Right leg stand time improved from a mean of 13.3s to 17.1s and standing forward reach distance from 26.0cm to 29.6cm. The number of falls in older adults reduced by 48% after six months of yoga classes (Hamrick I, et al. Yogas effect on falls in rural, older adults. Complement Ther Med. 2017;35:57-63).
- Yoga can improve thyroid function: Yoga improved thyroid function in patients with thyroid disorders. Significant differences were noted between thyroid hormone status before and after the intervention with improvement in tiredness, hair loss, constipation, weight loss, tremors and laziness (Sharma K, et al. The effect of yogic practices on thyroid functions. Indian Journal of Applied Research. 2017;4(7):526-7). In another study, 6 months practice of yoga improved cholesterol level, serum TSH, may also help in reducing the thyroxine requirement in female patients suffering from hypothyroidism (Nilakanthan S, et al. Effect of 6 months intense Yoga practice on lipid profile, thyroxine medication and serum TSH level in women suffering from hypothyroidism: A pilot study. J Complement Integr Med. 2016;13(2):189-93).
- Yoga can improve control of diabetes: Yoga led to significant reduction in blood glucose levels, both fasting and post prandial, in patients with type 2 diabetes suggesting a potential role of yoga in preventive and management strategies for type 2 diabetes (Chimkode SM, et al. Effect of yoga on blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(4):CC01-3).
- Yoga can enhance immune system: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system. By reducing stress, yoga improves symptoms (Harvard Health). Yoga and meditation-based lifestyle intervention significantly reduced the rate of cellular aging in apparently healthy population. Compared to baseline values, significant improvements were noted in both the cardinal biomarkers of cellular aging and the metabotrophic biomarkers influencing cellular aging After 12 weeks of the intervention (Tolahunase M, et al. Impact of yoga and meditation on cellular aging in apparently healthy individuals: a prospective, open-label single-arm exploratory study. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:7928981).
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA