Limitations of some studies on yoga and health
It is fair for yoga to explain the limitations that some studies have when it comes to putting into practice and understanding what yoga really means. Yoga ultimately seeks enlightenment and self-realization through a tuning not only physical but mental and spiritual.
Some studies simply studying the effects of a small part of yoga as a discipline and philosophy, ie the asanas or postures, pranayama or breath control, and dhyana or meditation. These are three of the eight branches or ashtanga(eightfold path) that yoga contains. In this way, studies approach yoga from a biased and incomplete perspective, something that must be taken into account. Does this mean that the results of the studies are falsified? No, but as we said, it is fair to recognize that the approach that the subjects participating in the studies make of yoga is not complete.
What are the benefits we can expect from yoga in our health?
Better management of stress and disorders caused by it
Yoga is effective in the prevention and management of stress and disorders induced by it.
A 2007 study on patients who were taking antidepressant medications but who were in partial remission showed significant reductions in depression, anger, anxiety, and neurotic symptoms. The study supports the potential of yoga as a complementary treatment of depression.
In 2008, researchers at the University of Utah demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging that among the control subjects and yoga practitioners, the yoga practitioner had a greater tolerance for pain and lower brain activity related to pain. The study shows the importance of yoga in the regulation of pain responses and associated stress.
Finally, at the level of parameters measured in urine, saliva, and plasma, yoga has been shown to reduce salivary cortisol and the concentration of adrenaline and norepinephrine in urine for 24 hours. In addition, plasma renin levels were also reduced, an enzyme that activates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which has hypertensive effects on the body.
Better management of overweight and obesity
Training of yoga and pranayama asanas for three continuous months, one hour every day in the morning by a yoga expert resulted in a decrease in body weight, body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio. Personally, I believe that these changes are not induced by direct mechanisms that yoga can cause on lipolysis and oxidation of fatty acids but by the reduction of stress and a greater predisposition for the subjects to acquire healthy life habits by dedicating time to themselves.
Coronary heart disease improvements
In a randomized controlled study, patients with angiographically proven coronary heart disease who practiced yoga for a period of one year showed a decrease in the number of episodes of angina pectoris per week, a better tolerance to exercise and a decrease in body weight.
Therefore, yoga slows the progression of atherosclerosis in patients with severe coronary disease.
Improvements in lung function
Yoga training significantly improves lung functions and the strength of inspiratory and expiratory muscles.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted by the Institute of Medical Sciences of India, it was observed that yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation improved several measures of lung function in subjects with mild to moderate bronchial asthma.
The latter is consistent with that observed in another American study in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.