Yoga: Complementary and Alternative Medicine

by Vaidyamitra


Yoga: Complementary and Alternative Medicine
A 3,000 year old tradition, yoga, is now regarded in the Western world as a holistic approach to health and is classified by the National Institutes of Health as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit root “yuj” which means union to join and to direct and concentrate one's attention.The physical exercises (asanas) increases flexibility, coordination and strength while the breathing practices and meditation may calm and focus the mind to develop greater awareness and diminish anxiety and thus result in higher quality of life.

All these benefits of yoga we know, but here we will discuss the most common diseases and their disease specific effect of therapeutic yoga.

1. 1.Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often called a ‘silent’ condition, as people don’t notice any symptoms until they fracture a bone. When symptoms do occur, they’re generally the result of a fracture. These symptoms may include:

loss of height •

postural changes •

pain. Osteoporosis is the disease of denial,Nobody thinks they have it but by a certain age almost everyone does. But women gets more affected than men. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, a woman can lose up to 20% of your bone mass in the 5 to 7years after menopause. Yoga plus a disease specific customised diet creates a foundation for healthy bones. For starters, yoga is a weight-bearing exercise, meaning you hold the weight of your body up against gravity. Resisting gravity puts a mild stress on the bones. That stress forces bones into laying down new growth. But unlike some other weight-bearing activities, yoga won't damage cartilage or stress the joints. Instead, it stretches muscles and holds them there, creating good tension on the bone which creates stability.

1. 2. Stroke / Paralysis

Stroke is one of the leading cause of disability worldwide. It occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off, either by a clot or a rupture of an artery. Once the flow of blood is disrupted, brain cells no longer receive oxygen or nutrients and begin to die. When brain cells die, functions such as memory and muscle control are diminished or lost. Research has found that yoga can enhance the impact of therapies. For example, those who participate in yoga may experience increased flexibility, improved balance, increased strength, a greater range of motion in the neck and hip, less pain, and enhanced energy levels. Meditation , breathing control helps the ability of the brain to reorganize itself and enables the brain to correct or adapt to damage caused by a stroke. Yoga has been shown to visibly reduce tremors and improve the steadiness of an individual's gait in Parkinson’s disease .

1. 3. Heart disease

In heart disease Hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes often co-exist. The practice of yoga [asanas (postures), pranayamasa (breathing), relaxation techniques, group support, meditation, stress management, knowledge of nutrition] has shown significant improvement in plasma levels of fasting glucose, total- and LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol. Yoga also improves blood coagulation. So it increases the platelets counts and haemoglobin level. There is a evidence of increasing in VO2 max level with the continuous practice of Hath yoga. Although most patients do well, appropriate yoga requires proper training and guidance. However, there are some issues that need some attention. For example, aggressive and sudden changes in yoga postures may be stressful. Accordingly, vigorous yoga practice should be avoided in the elderly or people with high ocular pressure disorders. Some breathing techniques result in cessation or retention of breath-these should be avoided in patients with cardiac or lung disease. Patients with hypertension or CHD should avoid inverted asana (shoulder stand and head stand). Patients with heart or lung problems should avoid exercises that cause pain or stress.

1. 4.Anxiety and Depression

prolong periods of anxiety can trigger depression. Asana practice helps counteract anxiety-driven depression because it reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, inducing the relaxation response. Once the relaxation response kicks in, many people feel that instead of trying to escape their feelings, they can stay with them, which is essential to identifying the psychological factors that trigger their anxiety and depression. But the path to getting to this relaxed place varies by individual.

Adding a few yoga poses to your daily routine can make you an emotionally stronger and happier person. A recent study has shown that practicing regular yoga and meditation results in higher serotonin levels (the happiness hormone). Just 15 minutes of yoga a day can change your brain chemistry and improve your mood.

Dr. Anuja Mhatre ( PT) Clinical physiotherapist and Sports Nutritionist


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