Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Cardiopulmonary and Metabolic Effects of Yoga in Healthy Volunteers

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Cardiopulmonary and Metabolic Effects of Yoga in Healthy Volunteers

Article excerpt

Byline: T. Divya, M. Vijayalakshmi, K. Mini, K. Asish, M. Pushpalatha, Varun. Suresh

Background: Yoga the spiritual union of mind with the divine intelligence of the universe aims to liberate a human being from conflicts of body–mind duality. Beneficial cardiovascular and pulmonary effects of yoga are in par with aerobic exercise, even amounting to replace the exercise model. We conducted an interventional study in healthy volunteers, to analyze the impact of short-term yoga training on cardiovascular, pulmonary, autonomic function tests, lipid profile, and thyroid function tests. Materials and Methods: A sample of fifty new recruits attending the district yoga center was subject to 75 min yoga practice a day for 41 days. Basal values of cardiovascular, pulmonary, autonomic function tests, lipid profile, and thyroid function tests were recorded before yoga training and were reassessed for postyoga changes after 41 days. Results: After yoga practice there was a significant reduction in the resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean blood pressure of the participants. Effects on autonomic function tests were variable and inconclusive. There was a significant increase in forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in 1 s, and peak expiratory flow rate after yoga. A significant reduction in body mass index was observed. Effects on metabolic parameters were promising with a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar level, serum total cholesterol, serum triglycerides serum low-density lipoprotein levels, and significant increase in high-density lipoprotein. There was no significant change in thyroid function tests after yoga. Conclusion: Short-term yoga practice has no effect on thyroid functions. Yoga practice was found beneficial in maintaining physiological milieu pertaining to cardiovascular and other metabolic parameters.


Modernization has brought increased comforts and limited mobility in our lives at the cost of increased prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and obesity, which are predecessors of major cardiovascular disease. Evidence suggests most of these diseases were rare before the present century and their prevalence has increased during the past 50 years,[sup][1] with significant association with diet patterns, lifestyle changes, and mental stress.[sup][2],[3],[4] The prevalence of metabolic syndrome has reached epidemic proportions in a developing country like India.[sup][5]

Yoga, an effective alternative to traditional aerobic and strength training program, requires little space, no equipment and is with limited side effects. It focuses on relaxation, body awareness, and meditation and provides a qualitatively different exercise experience which may be perceived as less strenuous and more pleasurable.[sup][6] The regular practice of yoga brings about the integration of the body, mind, and breath to produce structural, physiological, and psychological effects in an individual who practices it. The effectiveness of yoga against stress management is well established.[sup][7],[8] It has been hypothesized that yoga causes a shift toward parasympathetic nervous system dominance, possibly via direct vagal stimulation. Yoga provides a holistic healing of the individual. The philosophy of yoga perceives the mind and body as an integrated unit, for which it is considered a mind–body science. It teaches that “given the right tools and the right environment, the mind–body can find harmony and heal itself.” Yoga calms and relaxes the mind, strengthens and tunes the body, and brings them into harmony with one another.

There are many forms of yoga, starting from simple breathing exercise to complex physical exercises and postures. In short, during directing the mind and body, the ways of yoga passes through pranayama-controlled breathing exercises to asanas-postures, which are held for a certain period of time; thereby facilitating the development and integration of the body, mind, and soul. …

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