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What does yoga therapy cure? Illusions and reality

Followers of yoga, as befits true fans of their business, believe that their discipline is not only a kind of fitness combined with spiritual practice but also a cure for all diseases. And in recent years, the so-called yoga therapy-treatment with the help of yoga-has become increasingly popular. Experts considered how true the rumors about the healing power of yoga are and what is worth and what is not worth treating it with methods.

Yoga in the modern world

Yoga came to the Western world at the end of the XIX century. It was presented at the First World Parliament of Religions in Chicago (USA) in 1893. In the first half of the twentieth century, yoga was a spiritual practice permeated with mysticism and magic and preaching asceticism. The focus was on Raja yoga (mental practice), while Hatha yoga (physical practice) remained in the background. In the 1960s, there was a demystification of yoga, and ordinary people became seriously interested in its physical component.

Attitudes to this ancient discipline have changed especially over the past 30 years. Even at the end of the last century, it was strongly associated with spiritual improvement. Today, yoga has almost completely moved into the field of medicine and fitness. The growing popularity of yoga in the fitness market has led to the emergence of numerous “gurus” who assure citizens of their unprecedented professionalism. Against the background of increased competition, various hybrid forms of yoga began to be created-akroyoga, yoga for the fighter, power yoga, fit yoga (fitness yoga), etc. Commercialization has covered all aspects of the discipline, from super-professional floor mats to physical improvement seminars with trips to Bali and Thailand.

Today, the vast majority of coaches teach yoga, which combines:

– muscle and ligament training;

– proper breathing;

– the ability to manage your mental state.

Yoga therapy

The medical side of the issue has become a gold mine for people who bring yoga to the masses. On the wave of popularity, even large corporations began to offer yoga as a bonus to their employees, citing its huge health benefits.

It is possible to allocate two basic directions of the use of yoga for medical purposes:

– Yoga-therapy, which is based on a spiritual component.

Its adherents talk about the “wrong attitude” and negative emotions that triggered the disease. Treatment, respectively, is offered by meditation and asanas, which should stabilize the psyche and set the patient up for a cure.

– Yoga-therapy based on the physical component of yoga.

People who practice this type of yoga treatment rely on human physiology and consider asanas as a method of influencing the nervous and endocrine systems of the human body.

But can yoga treat from science?

Proven health benefits of yoga

– Yoga keeps the muscles in the elderly.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut recommend practicing yoga for women aged 50-65 years. With age, due to hormonal changes, female representatives begin to lose muscle mass. And regular yoga classes activate the processes of protein synthesis in the body, which allows you to save muscles, and therefore reduce the risks for blood vessels and joints.

– Yoga exercises are useful for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.

Scientists from the state of Pennsylvania have proved that yoga classes 2 times a week have a significant healing effect on men suffering from prostate cancer and undergoing radiation therapy. Yoga classes proved to be effective prevention of increased fatigue, characteristic of cancer patients, and also led to an improvement in sexual and urinary functions.

– Yoga eases the condition of patients with ulcerative colitis.

Studies have shown that patients with ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel disease) often develop relapses against the background of stress. But after an hour and a half of weekly yoga sessions, relapses of the disease began to occur less frequently and were not as pronounced.

– Yoga reduces the symptoms of depression.

Researchers from Columbia University have demonstrated that three yoga sessions a week for 3 months lead to a significant reduction in the manifestations of depression. It is important to note that yoga acted as an antidepressant both for people who took the recommended dose of medication for depression and for those who received drugs in a reduced dosage.

– Yoga relieves lower back pain.

Research conducted at the University of Maryland shows that 3-6-month yoga classes can reduce the intensity of lower back pain. However, it was about moderate pain and moderate effect.

– Yoga reduces blood pressure in pre-hypertension.

If a person has hypertension in all its glory (blood pressure is more than 140/90 mm Hg), then yoga alone will not help him. But at the prehypertension stage, when the systolic blood pressure is within 120-139 mm Hg, and the diastolic blood PRESSURE is within 80-89 mm Hg, yoga gives quite a noticeable effect. Indian scientists observed women and men 50-60 years old. It turned out that blood pressure during yoga classes decreases by an average of 4.5/4.9 mm Hg, which reduces the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease by 6%, and stroke — by 15%.

– Yoga is useful for arrhythmias.

Cardiologists from the University of Kansas say that after just three months of yoga, the frequency of episodes of atrial fibrillation is reduced by almost half. They explain this by saying that yoga classes have a calming effect on the nervous system, reduce blood pressure, and reduce heart rate.

– Yoga improves brain function.

Regular yoga classes have a positive effect on the brain of older people. In a study by researchers from the University of Illinois, people aged 55 to 79 years who attended a Hatha yoga class showed significant improvements in cognitive functions, which include memory, thinking, the ability to concentrate on a task, logic, and others.

Unproven effects of yoga classes

It should be noted that the results of studies that have proven their usefulness are published more often than data from experiments that failed to produce a positive result. But any data is important because it forms the most versatile view of the problem. So, in the last few years, scientists have come to the following conclusions: 

– Yoga does not improve sleep or reduce tides for women menopausal.

A three-month course of yoga, according to a study by scientists from the University of Washington, did not improve the condition of women in the menopause and postmenopausal period, who complained about the tides and restless sleep.

– Yoga does not affect blood sugar or glycated hemoglobin.

Scientists from Harvard University (Massachusetts, USA) have proved that using yoga is useless to try to treat diabetes. No, of course, physical activity will only benefit diabetics. But it is precisely the disease itself and the reasons that led to it — yoga, alas, does not affect in any way.

Can I be treated with yoga?

Yes, we can say that yoga works as a Wellness practice. But only in two ways: it helps to stabilize the state of the nervous system and strengthens the muscles. Improving the functioning of blood vessels and the heart is also associated with the anti-stress effect of yoga. But it does not treat hormonal disorders and does not save from pain caused by serious pathologies. Yoga is powerless against infections, metabolic disorders, and tissue damage. Moreover, yoga is effective only in the early stages of those diseases that are susceptible to its effects. If the disease is started, then yoga is unlikely to give a significant effect.

Whatever the results of scientific research, their authors confidently agree on one thing: as a medicine, as the only method of therapy, yoga can not be used. But it perfectly complements medication and physiotherapy methods of treatment, supporting the patient physically and psychologically.

It should also be understood that yoga is not a type of physical therapy. This is not a set of exercises specially selected for working out a particular group of muscles. This means that an unhealthy person needs to be especially careful in their desire to practice yoga. So, in the case of hernia or intercostal neuralgia, it is possible to achieve an increase in pain and General deterioration. Also, people suffering from intercostal neuralgia should “breathe with their stomach”, as this allows them to avoid an attack of pain. But yoga asanas require a certain type of breathing — and this may conflict with the limitations of illness.

It is not recommended to practice yoga for elderly people with osteoporosis, spondylosis, and joint diseases. And even yoga therapists themselves believe that yoga is contraindicated for people with cancer, patients in the postoperative period, patients suffering from alcohol or drug addiction.


• If you want to improve your health through yoga, you should first consult a doctor, preferably a surgeon. If you have chronic diseases, you must consult with a specialized doctor.

• With the growing popularity of yoga, the number of visits to emergency rooms of people who were injured during classes or yoga therapy has also increased. The main role here is played, of course, by the human factor. If the trainer does not control the actions of his student, or the yoga therapist does not understand how the patient’s body works, then the risk of the latter getting injured is high. Like any physical discipline, yoga requires a thoughtful and individual approach, especially given the degree of diversity of the contingent of citizens who turn to yoga.

• Keep in mind that in the Wake of the popularity of yoga, people rarely pay attention to the quality of teaching and the level of the coach. Yoga therapists, moreover, with medical education — in General, “rare birds” in this area. Therefore, first of all, you need to assess all possible risks, so as not to harm yourself, and not to trust your body to Amateurs.

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