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How Yoga Improves Mood and Prevents Disease


Research suggests that yoga might improve mood and sense of well being, according to United States National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As per an NIH backgrounder, research also suggests that yoga might counteract stress; reduce heart rate and blood pressure; increase lung capacity; improve muscle relaxation and body composition; help with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia; improve overall physical fitness, strength, and flexibility; positively affect levels of certain brain or blood chemicals.

There is growing evidence to suggest that yoga works to enhance stress-coping mechanisms and mind-body awareness.

Regularly practicing yoga exercises may lower a number of compounds in the blood and reduce the level of inflammation that normally rises because of both normal aging and stress.

In the cases of respiratory infections, cytokines plays a part in a potentially fatal immune reaction called a "cytokine storm," in which the immune system of a healthy person goes haywire and "overreacts" to an infection. The cytokines command a patient's body to flood the lungs with fluids and mucous, which can eventually block off the airways and "drown" the patient.

In a study done by Ohio State University researchers and reported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, they showed that women who routinely practiced yoga had lower amounts of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in their blood.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found that practicing yoga may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. The results suggest that the practice of yoga be explored as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety, disorders associated with low GABA levels.

Studies supported by NIH have been investigating yoga's effects on blood pressure, chronic low-back pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes risk, HIV, immune function, inflammatory arthritis and knee osteoarthritis, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, smoking cessation.

According to NIH website, currently 43 studies on yoga are open under its Clinical Trials programme, which include effects of laugh-yoga, yoga-based cancer rehabilitation program, etc.

"Yoga in its full form combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and a distinct philosophy", NIH backgrounder points out.

Lauding NIH efforts in this direction, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged NIH to provide more funding and support for yoga research, as although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage to be utilized and benefited by all.

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