Practitioners of yoga have long lauded the health benefits of this type of mind-body exercise. I am continually encouraged by the emerging scientific studies that find proof of this. This latest study shows how just doing 2 sessions of Hatha Yoga per week can dramatic reduce metabolic inflammation markers.
There is accumulating evidence that suggests that yoga meditation could improve risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome (MetS) such as obesity, disordered lipid profile, and insulin resistance. Inflammation is one of the key mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of MetS. Existing evidence suggests that yoga could positively affect circulating inflammatory markers in heart failure patients, breast cancer survivors, and patients with chronic inflammatory diseases and overweight/obese subjects.
The primary aim of the study was to determine the effects of a Hatha yoga practice on metabolic markers including blood glucose, insulin, lipid profiles, blood pressure. The secondary aim was to determine the effects of Hatha yoga practice on inflammatory markers in the above subjects such as circulating cytokine levels.
The Hatha yoga sessions consisted of 2 times per week over the 8 weeks of the study. Yoga classes were offered on Monday and Thursday every week (from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.). Each class has a total of 60 minutes and had the following components:
- breathing exercise (6 mins);
- loosening exercise (i.e., corn tree pose) (10 mins);
- standing poses (i.e., warrior pose and mountain pose) (8 mins);
- supine poses (i.e., bridge pose and dolphin plank pose) (8 mins);
- prone poses (i.e., hare pose and locust pose) (8 mins);
- sitting poses (i.e., staff pose and hero pose) (8 mins);
- relaxation/corpse pose (6 mins); and
- seated meditation (6 mins).
Approximately 32 minutes is spent in active poses. The classes were held in a yoga training room and taught by a registered, specialized yoga instructor. The yoga practice was specifically designed for this study; however the yoga classes were not observed by study staff. Subjects were also instructed to maintain their usual physical activity and dietary habits for the study.
The results were outstanding.
- Yoga practice resulted in significant reduction in plasma insulin, total cholesterol, and LDL-C levels compared to preyoga practice.
- Biomarkers of endothelial activation and damage that are increased in overweight/obese individuals at risk for MetS were significantly reduced.
- Section of inflammatory markers of Interleukin-6, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, and Interleukin-1 beta were almost total suppressed.
The scientist conclude that Hatha yoga practice is an effective way in:
- reducing risk factors associated with disordered lipid profiles even in healthy subjects.
- significantly reducing plasma insulin levels and insulin resistance
- exerting a beneficial effect because it decreases the inflammatory capacity of inflammatory cells, consequently suppressing whole body chronic inflammation