Yoga Body Mind

February 15, 2013 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

The ancient practice of yoga in its many incarnations is more popular than ever before. But, based on my informal assessment, it appears that there is a widespread perception that yoga is primarily useful for issues pertaining to mental health. And, while it’s true that yoga often promotes a more positive psychological outlook and clearer cognitive functioning, there’s much more to it. Lately, a series of well designed, clinical studies have illustrated the emerging role of yoga in addressing physical ailments and complaints as well.

To my mind, the most impressive aspect of practicing yoga regularly is the stunningly wide array of potential health benefits. In recent months, papers presented in peer-reviewed medical journals reveal that practicing yoga 1 – 3 times a week reduces: a) the incidence of arrhythmias and other symptoms related to atrial fibrillation; b) anxiety, fatigue and pain disability is those living with rheumatoid arthritis; c) pain severity and improves coping ability in adults diagnosed with chronic neck pain, lower back pain and generalized pain relating to musculoskeletal conditions; d) perceived stress, sleep disturbance and other symptoms associated with restless leg syndrome. All of the previously mentioned studies go a long way in illustrating that yoga, in fact, assists in healing the body as well as the mind. If you have any of the previously mentioned conditions, I highly recommend that you look into the advisability of adding yoga to your health care routine.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – “More Than I Expected”: Perceived Benefits of Yoga Practice (link)

Study 2 – The Effect of Yoga On Neuroticism In An Indian Population Varies (link)

Study 3 – Ancient Science of Yogic Life for Academic Excellence In University(link)

Study 4 – Yoga Meditation Practitioners Exhibit Greater Gray Matter Volume (link)

Study 5 – Effect of Yoga on Arrhythmia Burden, Anxiety, Depression (link)

Study 6 – Impact of Iyengar Yoga on Quality of Life in Young Women(link)

Study 7 – “I’m More in Balance”: A Qualitative Study of Yoga for Patients (link)

Study 8 – Yoga for Functional Ability, Pain and Psychosocial Outcomes (link)

Study 9 – Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Yoga for Low Back Pain (link)

Study 10 – A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Yoga for Low Back Pain (link)

How Yoga Affects the Body and Mind

Source: Front Psychiatry. 2012; 3: 117. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Heart Health, Mental Health

5 Comments & Updates to “Yoga Body Mind”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: Lemon balm extract may also protect against heart palpitations …

    J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Feb 10. pii: S0378-8741(15)00078-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.02.007. [Epub ahead of print]

    Heart palpitation relief with Melissa officinalis leaf extract: Double blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial of efficacy and safety.


    In Traditional Iranian Medicine (TIM), Melissa officinalis L. is commonly regarded as an effective therapy for heart palpitations.


    Heart palpitation is a common complaint that is often benign and associated with a marked distress that makes the condition difficult to treat. Herbal medicines provide an alternative to conventional drugs for treating various kinds of diseases. This study was done as a double blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the dried extract of M. officinalis on adults suffering from benign palpitations.


    Eligible volunteers were randomly assigned as outpatients to a fourteen day treatment with 500mg twice a day of lyophilized aqueous extract of M. officinalis leaves (or placebo). Participants in the tests, physicians and researchers were blind to group assignments. Both primary and secondary outcomes were patient-reported. Primary outcomes were obtained from two measures: mean frequency of palpitation episodes per week, derived from patients’ diaries, and mean intensity of palpitation estimated through Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) in a self-report questionnaire. Psychiatric symptoms (somatization, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction and severe depression) were evaluated as secondary outcomes by General Health Questionnaire-28(GHQ-28), before and after intervention.


    Fifty-five volunteers out of seventy-one recruited study subjects completed the trial. Results showed that 14-days of treatment with lyophilized aqueous extract of M. officinalis leaves reduced frequency of palpitation episodes and significantly reduced the number of anxious patients in comparison to the placebo (P=0.0001, P=0.004resp.). Also, M. officinalis extract showed no indication of any serious side effects.


    Lyophilized aqueous extract of Melissa officinalis leaves may be a proper and safe herbal drug for the treatment of benign palpitations.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Update: Yoga appears to increase oxytocin levels in patients living with schizophrenia …

    Effect of yoga therapy on plasma oxytocin and facial emotion recognition deficits in patients of schizophrenia

    “The study supported the role of add-on yoga therapy in management of schizophrenia and demonstrated an improvement in endogenous plasma oxytocin levels in schizophrenia patients receiving yoga therapy.”

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update 05/20/15:

    J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Jun 19. [Epub ahead of print]

    Yoga to Reduce Trauma-Related Distress and Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties Among Children Living in Orphanages in Haiti: A Pilot Study.

    OBJECTIVES: To measure trauma-related distress and evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an 8-week yoga intervention (YI) in reducing trauma-related symptoms and emotional and behavioral difficulties (EBD) among children living in orphanages in Haiti.

    DESIGN: Case comparison with random assignment to YI or aerobic dance control (DC) plus a nonrandomized wait-list control (WLC) group.

    SETTING: Two orphanages for children in Haiti.

    PARTICIPANTS: 76 children age 7 to 17 years.

    INTERVENTION: The YI included yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. The DC group learned a series of dance routines. The WLC group received services as usual in the institutional setting. After completion of data collection, the WLC group received both yoga and dance classes for 8 weeks.

    OUTCOME MEASURES: The UCLA PTSD Reaction Index and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were used to indicate trauma-related symptoms and EBD, respectively. A within-subject analysis was conducted to compare pre- and post-treatment scores. A post-treatment yoga experience questionnaire evaluated acceptability of the YI.

    RESULTS: Analyses of variance revealed a significant effect (F[2,28]=3.30; p=0.05) of the YI on the trauma-related symptom scores. Regression analyses showed that participation in either 8 weeks of yoga or dance classes suggested a reduction in trauma-related symptoms and EBD, although this finding was not statistically significant (p>0.05). Respondents reported satisfaction with the yoga program and improved well-being.

    CONCLUSIONS: Children with trauma-related distress showed improvements in symptoms after participation in an 8-week yoga program compared to controls. Yoga is a feasible and acceptable activity with self-reported benefits to child mental and physical health. Additional research is needed to further evaluate the effect of yoga to relieve trauma-related distress and promote well-being among children.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 08/28/16:

    Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2016 Aug 12:1-13.

    A randomised controlled trial of adjunctive yoga and adjunctive physical exercise training for cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia.

    BACKGROUND: Yoga and physical exercise have been used as adjunctive intervention for cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia (SZ), but controlled comparisons are lacking. Aims A single-blind randomised controlled trial was designed to evaluate whether yoga training or physical exercise training enhance cognitive functions in SZ, based on a prior pilot study.

    METHODS: Consenting, clinically stable, adult outpatients with SZ (n=286) completed baseline assessments and were randomised to treatment as usual (TAU), supervised yoga training with TAU (YT) or supervised physical exercise training with TAU (PE). Based on the pilot study, the primary outcome measure was speed index for the cognitive domain of ‘attention’ in the Penn computerised neurocognitive battery. Using mixed models and contrasts, cognitive functions at baseline, 21 days (end of training), 3 and 6 months post-training were evaluated with intention-to-treat paradigm.

    RESULTS: Speed index of attention domain in the YT group showed greater improvement than PE at 6 months follow-up (p<0.036, effect size 0.51). In the PE group, 'accuracy index of attention domain showed greater improvement than TAU alone at 6-month follow-up (p<0.025, effect size 0.61). For several other cognitive domains, significant improvements were observed with YT or PE compared with TAU alone (p<0.05, effect sizes 0.30-1.97).

    CONCLUSIONS: Both YT and PE improved attention and additional cognitive domains well past the training period, supporting our prior reported beneficial effect of YT on speed index of attention domain. As adjuncts, YT or PE can benefit individuals with SZ.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 04/29/18:

    Int J Yoga Therap. 2018 Apr 26.

    Kundalini Yoga for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: An Exploration of Treatment Efficacy and Possible Mechanisms.

    The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of Kundalini Yoga in reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) compared to a common treatment-as-usual condition using cognitive techniques. A secondary objective was to explore potential treatment mechanisms. Females aged 24 to 75 years with GAD ( n = 49) received either an 8-week Kundalini Yoga intervention ( n = 34) or an 8-week treatment-as-usual condition ( n = 15). The yoga condition resulted in lower levels of anxiety relative to the treatment-as-usual condition. Furthermore, changes in somatic symptoms mediated treatment outcome for Kundalini Yoga. Kundalini Yoga may show promise as a treatment for GAD, and this treatment might convey its effect on symptom severity by reducing somatic symptoms.

    Be well!


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