Can Yoga Be Used To Treat Medical Conditions?
Article by Gill Owen
While many people are aware of benefits of yoga such as relaxation, improved flexibility, and muscle tone, few may know about additional positive results that can be achieved. Researchers are currently exploring how yoga affects medical conditions like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, heart disease, and other medical conditions. In the future, this form of exercise may be prescribed by physicians as part of the treatment routine for sufferers of these diseases.
Elevate your mood
Though this is not widely backed by science, yoga students report their mood improves when engaging in the exercise. Students feel more content and happier after leaving a yoga class. Researchers have recently begun investigating the effects of yoga on mood-related conditions like depression. Yoga increases the level of oxygen to the brain, which can help to elevate mood. This effect can be felt even after leaving the yoga studio.
Relieve OCD symptoms
The exercise is also being studied as possible adjunct therapy to relieve obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms, due to its breathing techniques. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego are studying the effects of the Kundalini form of yoga in treating OCD. They studied a system of Kundalini that included breathing techniques developed specifically for the condition. Breathing through the left nostril was included, which is thought to stimulate the right hemisphere within the brain. According to yogis, multiple psychiatric functions are controlled by the right hemisphere.
Benefits for heart disease
The effect of yoga on heart disease is one of the most investigated areas. Dr. Dean Ornish designed the first heart disease program to partly reverse the condition through diet and lifestyle rather than surgery. A key component of his program was yoga because it slows the heart rate and lowers the blood pressure. Biochemical benefits from yoga include a reported antioxidant effect. The exercise has also been shown to decrease triglyceride and cholesterol levels and boost the functioning of the immune system. Each of these aspects can make a positive impact on the heart.
Yoga as therapy
Medical researchers are now exploring benefits of the exercise called therapeutic yoga, which is also referred to as integrative yoga therapy (IYT). This practice is sometimes recommended as an adjunct treatment for various medical conditions. Most of these studies are being conducted outside the U.S. but the National Institute of Health is involved in trials regarding the effect of yoga on multiple sclerosis and insomnia.
Help with asthma and arthritis
IYT is being further explored concerning conditions like asthma and arthritis. Integrated yoga programs like Pranayama and Yogasana reduce the construction of bronchial tubes, helping to reduce frequency of asthma attacks. The inflammation in the joints that characterizes arthritis results in stiffness and pain. With the modification of some poses, forms of yoga like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Lyengar, and Bikram can be used to treat arthritis pain.
Some researchers are event exploring whether practicing yoga slows the process of aging. If this is found to be true, there will likely be many more people practicing this form of exercise in the future.
The best way for a person to learn about positive effects of yoga on medical conditions is to do research and discuss this with professionals.
About the Author
Gill Owen is a respected yoga and Pilates teacher and busy mother of two. She brings her long-time love and respect of yoga to her position as founder of Lovestretch, which proudly stocks a carefully chosen range of performance yoga clothes for women as well as other comfortable stretchwear. If you have a website and would like Gill to write more free articles like this one for you, click here to get in touch.