New research suggests that people who partake in regular yoga-meditation practice have better stress and inflammation status than those who do not practice regularly.
By Dipti Magan and Raj Kumar Yadav
Psychological stress can have adverse effects on many bodily systems, including weakening of the immune system and worsening of inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is considered to be a natural part of the immune response and, in the short-term, can be helpful to heal wounds and fight infections. However, when inflammation becomes chronic it can do more harm than good.
Nowadays, yoga is widely endorsed as a way of staying fit and healthy, as well as in helping to alleviate the effects of many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery diseases, and others. In a new study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, researchers based in New Delhi hypothesized that men who practiced regular yoga-meditation might have different physiological characteristics compared to those who did not practice regularly. They assessed these differences by evaluating baseline physiological characteristics (like blood pressure) and blood plasma levels of stress and inflammation markers (including cortisol), in long-term yoga-meditators, short-term yoga-meditators, and healthy controls.
They observed that the long-term yoga-meditators had better stress and inflammation status than the control group. Furthermore, the men in this group showed, on average, a negative correlation between blood plasma cortisol levels and duration of practice. In other words, the longer these participants had been practicing yoga-meditation, the lower their cortisol levels were (taken here as a sign of reduced stress).
Collectively, clinical trials on yoga-based lifestyle modification programs have shown promising results in terms of their anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects. These findings support the notion that long-term, regular practice of yoga-meditation might modulate human neuroendocrine systems and positively influence physiological parameters, like body mass index and blood pressure. Yoga-meditation has also been associated with improvements in emotion regulation.
One might wonder how often and how much one would need to practice yoga-meditation to benefit from its effects. So far, science does not provide a conclusive answer, but based on this research, yoga-meditation programs that last at least 2 weeks with about 40 minutes of practice 5 days per week, appear to be beneficial. “Most importantly, yoga is a lifestyle intervention”, the researchers of the study claim, “so regular and consistent yoga-meditation practice brings the most benefit to both mind and body.”
Read the original article here: