Physiological Benefits Of Yogic Practices: A Brief Review

Physiological Benefits Of Yogic Practices: A Brief Review

Madanmohan Trakroo1 , Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani 2 *

International Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine

1 Professor and Head, Department of Physiology, MGMCRI and Director, CYTER, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Pillayarkuppam, Pondicherry – 607 402.
2 Deputy Director, Centre for Yoga Therapy, Education & Research (CYTER), Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Pillayarkuppam, Pondicherry 607 402.

Background: Yoga is becoming popular worldwide and many studies and systematic reviews are being published with scientific evidence of its health promoting abilities and therapeutic potential in various psychosomatic conditions. Aims and objective: This short review paper takes a bird’s eye view of some health promoting benefits of yoga with regard to different systems as understood by modern medical physiology. Possible mechanisms for such physiological, biochemical and psychological effects are elucidated with references. Conclusion: Though most of the research studies and systematic reviews give evidence of in enhancing physiological functions of virtually every system, more exhaustive and rigorous studies are still advocated required to establish these positive benefits in conclusive terms. It is important to not forget the qualitative aspects of such benefits in our quest for quantitative findings when dealing with mind-body therapies and lifestyle modifications that have preventive, promotive, rehabilitative and curative potential as an adjunct therapy.

Keywords:  health, physiology, yoga, stress, yoga therapy

Free Full-text PDF

How to cite this article:

Madanmohan Trakroo1 , Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani 2 . Physiological Benefits Of Yogic Practices: A Brief Review. International Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2016, 1:4. DOI:10.28933/trakroo-ijtcm-2016

1. Barnes VA, Davis HC, Murzynowski JB, Treiber FA. Impact of meditation on resting and ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate in youth. Psychosom Med. 2004; 66: 909-14.
2. Beddoe AE, Paul Yang CP, Kennedy HP, Weiss SJ, Lee KA. The effects of mindfulness-based yoga during pregnancy on maternal psychological and physical distress. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2009; 38:310-9.
3. Bera TK and Rajapurkar MV. Body composition, cardiovascular endurance and anaerobic power of yogic practitioner. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1993; 37: 225-228.
4. Bharshankar JR, Bharshankar RN, Deshpande VN, Kaore SB, Gosavi GB. Effect of yoga on cardiovascular system in subjects above 40 years. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2003; 47: 202-206.
5. Bhavanani AB, Madanmohan, Udupa K. Acute effect of Mukh bhastrika (a yogic bellows type breathing) on reaction time. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2003; 47: 297-300.
6. Chaya MS, Kurpad AV, Nagendra HR, Nagarathna R. The effect of long term combined yoga practice on the basal metabolic rate of healthy adults. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 ;6: 28
7. Chaya MS, Ramakrishnan G, Shastry S, Kishore RP, Nagendra H, Nagarathna R, Raj T, Thomas T, Vaz M, Kurpad AV. Insulin sensitivity and cardiac autonomic function in young male practitioners of yoga. Natl Med J India. 2008; 21: 215-6.
8. Datey KK, Deshmukh SN, DalviCP, Vinekar SL. “Shavasana”: A yogic exercise in the management of hypertension’. Angiology 1969; 20: 325-333.
9. Dhume RR and Dhume RA. A comparative study of the driving effects of dextroamphetamine and yogic meditation on muscle control for the performance of balance board. Indian Journal Physiol Pharmacol 1991; 35: 191-94.
10. DiBenedetto M, Innes KE, Taylor AG, Rodeheaver PF, Boxer JA, Wright HJ, Kerrigan DC. Effect of a gentle Iyenger yoga program on gait in the elderly: an exploratory study.Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005; 86: 1830-7.
11. Goleman D J and Schwartz G. E. Meditation as an intervention in stress reactivity. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1976 Jun; 44: 456-66.
12. Gupta N, Khera S, Vempati RP, Sharma R, Bijlani RL. Effect of yoga based lifestyle intervention on state and trait anxiety. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006; 50: 41-47.
13. Harinath K, Malhotra AS, Pal K, Prasad R, Kumar R, Kain TC, Rai L, Sawhney RC. Effects of Hatha yoga and Omkar meditation on cardiorespiratory performance, psychologic profile, and melatonin secretion. J Altern Complement Med. 2004; 10:261-68.
14. Hart CE, Tracy BL. Yoga as steadiness training: Effects on motor variability in young adults. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Sep; 22: 1659-69.
15. Herzog H, Lele VR, Kuwert T, Langen KJ, Rota Kops E, Feinendegen LE. Changed pattern of regional glucose metabolism during yoga meditative relaxation. Neuropsychobiology. 1990; 23:182-7.
16. Hölzel BK, Ott U, Gard T, Hempel H, Weygandt M, Morgen K, Vaitl D. Investigation of mindfulness meditation practitioners with voxel-based morphometry. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2008; 3:55-61.
17. Javnbakht M, Hejazi Kenari R, Ghasemi M. Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2009; 15: 102-104.
18. Joshi LN, Joshi VD, Gokhale LV. Effect of short term ‘Pranayam’ practice on breathing rate and ventilator functions of lung. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992; 36: 105-108.
19. Joshi M and Telles S. Immediate effects of right and left nostril breathing on verbal and spatial scores. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008; 52:197-200.
20. Kamei T, Toriumi Y, Kimura H, Ohno S, Kumano H, Kimura K. Decrease in serum cortisol during yoga exercise is correlated with alpha wave activation. Percept Mot Skills. 2000; 90: 1027-32.
21. Khalsa SB, Shorter SM, Cope S, Wyshak G, Sklar E. Yoga Ameliorates Performance Anxiety and Mood Disturbance in Young Professional Musicians. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2009 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print]
22. Khare KC, Nigam SK. A study of electroencephalogram in meditators. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2000 Apr; 44: 173-8.
23. Kjaer TW, Bertelsen C, Piccini P, Brooks D, Alving J, Lou HC. Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2002; 13: 255-9.
24. Kochupillai V, Kumar P, Singh D, Aggarwal D, Bhardwaj N, Bhutani M, Das SN. Effect of rhythmic breathing (Sudarshan Kriya and Pranayam) on immune functions and tobacco addiction. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005; 1056:242-52.
25. Kozasa EH, Santos RF, Rueda AD, Benedito-Silva AA, De Ornellas FL, Leite JR. Evaluation of Siddha Samadhi yoga for anxiety and depression symptoms: a preliminary study. Psychol Rep. 2008; 103:271-274.
26. Lou HC, Kjaer TW, Friberg L, Wildschiodtz G, Holm S, Nowak M. A 15O-H2O PET study of meditation and the resting state of normal consciousness. Hum Brain Mapp. 1999;7:98-105.
27. Luders E, Toga AW, Lepore N, Gaser C. The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter. Neuroimage. 2009; 45:672-8.
28. Madanmohan (2008). Introducing Yog to Medical Students-The JIPMER Experience: Advanced Centre for Yoga Therapy, Education and Research.
29. Madanmohan, Mahadevan SK, Balakrishnan S, Gopalakrishnan M, Prakash ES. Effect of six weeks yoga training on weight loss following step test, respiratory pressures, handgrip strength and handgrip endurance in young healthy subjects. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2008; 52: 164-170.
30. Madanmohan, Rai UC, Balavittal V, Thombre DP, Swami Gitananda. Cardiorespiratory changes during savitri pranayama and shavasan. The yoga review 1983; 3: 25-34.
31. Madanmohan, Thombre DP, Balakumar B, Nambinarayanan TK, Thakur S, Krishnamurthy N, Chandrabose A. Effect of yoga training on reaction time, respiratory endurance and muscle strength. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992; 36:229-33.
32. Madanmohan, Udupa K, Bhavanani AB, Shathapathy CC, Sahai A. Modulation of cardiovascular response to exercise by yoga training. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2004; 48: 461-465.
33. Mahajan AS, Reddy KS, Sachdeva U. Lipid profile of coronary risk subjects following yogic lifestyle intervention. Indian Heart J. 1999; 51: 37-40.
34. Maini S. The effect of Sahaja Yoga on Lipid Peroxidation. MD Thesis. Delhi University, 2000.
35. Makwana K, Khirwadkar N, Gupta HC. Effect of short term yoga practice on ventilatory function tests. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1988 Jul-Sep; 32:202-208.
36. Malathi A and Damodaran A. Stress due to medical exams- role of yoga. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1999; 43: 218-24.
37. Malathi A and Parulkar VG. Effect of yogasanas on the visual and auditory reaction time. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1989; 3: 110-2.
38. Manchanda SC, Narang R, Reddy KS, Sachdeva U, Prabhakaran D, Dharmanand S, Rajani M, Bijlani R. Retardation of coronary atherosclerosis with yoga lifestyle intervention. J Assoc Physicians India. 2000; 48: 687-94.
39. Manjunatha S, Vempati RP, Ghosh D, Bijlani RL. An investigation into the acute and long-term effects of selected yogic postures on fasting and postprandial glycemia and insulinemia in healthy young subjects. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005; 49: 319-24.
40. Michalsen A, Grossman P, Acil A, Langhorst J, Lüdtke R, Esch T, Stefano GB, Dobos GJ. Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequence of a three-month intensive yoga program. Med Sci Monit. 2005; 11: CR555-561.
41. Muralidhara DV and Ranganathan KV. Effect of yoga practice on cardiac recovery index. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol1982; 26: 279-283.
42. Murugesan R, Govindarajulu N, Bera TK. Effect of selected yogic practices on the management of hypertension. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2000; 44: 207-10.
43. Narendran S, Nagarathna R, Narendran V, Gunasheela S, Nagendra HR. Efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcome. J Altern Complement Med. 2005; 11: 237-44.
44. Oken BS, Zajdel D, Kishiyama S, Flegal K, Dehen C, Haas M, Kraemer DF, Lawrence J, Leyva J. Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life. Altern Ther Health Med. 2006; 12:40-47.
45. Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, McLanahan SM, Kirkeeide RL, Brand RJ, Gould KL. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet. 1990; 336: 129-33.
46. Palatini P. Blood pressure behavior during physical actitvity. Sports Med 1988; 5: 353-374.
47. Patel C and North WRS. Randomised controlled trial of yoga and biofeedback in management of hypertension. Lancet 1975; 19: 93-95.
48. Patra S and Telles S. Positive impact of cyclic meditation on subsequent sleep. Med Sci Monit. 2009; 15: CR375-81.
49. Raghuraj P, Telles S. Immediate effect of specific nostril manipulating yoga breathing practices on autonomic and respiratory variables. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2008; 33: 65-75.
50. Raju PS, Madhavi S, Prasad KV, Reddy MV, Reddy ME, Sahay BK, Murthy KJ. Comparison of effects of yoga & physical exercise in athletes. Indian J Med Res. 1994; 100:81-6.
51. Ray US, Mukhopadhyaya S, Purkayastha SS, Asnani V, Tomer OS, Prashad R, Thakur L and Selvamurthy W. Effect of exercises on physical and mental health of young fellowship trainees. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2001; 45: 37-53.
52. Sarang SP and Telles S. Changes in p300 following two yoga-based relaxation techniques. Int J Neurosci. 2006; 116:1419-30.
53. Sarang SP and Telles S. Immediate effect of two yoga-based relaxation techniques on performance in a letter-cancellation task. Percept Mot Skills. 2007; 105: 379-85.
54. Satyapriya M, Nagendra HR, Nagarathna R, Padmalatha V. Effect of integrated yoga on stress and heart rate variability in pregnant women. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009; 104:218-22.
55. Schmidt T, Wijga A, Von Zur Mühlen A, Brabant G, Wagner TO. Changes in cardiovascular risk factors and hormones during a comprehensive residential three month kriya yoga training and vegetarian nutrition. Acta Physiol Scand Suppl. 1997; 640:158-62.
56. Selvamurthy W, Sridharan K, Ray US, Tiwary RS, Hegde KS, Radhakrishan U, Sinha KC. A new physical approach to control essential hypertension. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1998; 42: 205-13.
57. Shannahoff-Khalsa DS, Kennedy B. The effects of unilateral forced nostril breathing on heart. Int J Neurosci. 1993; 73: 47-60.
58. Sharma R, Gupta N, Bijlani RL. Effect of yoga based lifestyle intervention on subjective well-being. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008; 52: 123-31.
59. Sharma VK, Das S, Mondal S, Goswami U, Gandhi A. Comparative effect of sahaj yoga on EEG in patients of major depression and healthy subjects. Biomedicine 2007; 27: 95-99.
60. Sharma VK, Das S, Mondal S, Goswami U, Gandhi A. Effect of sahaj yoga on depressive disorders. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005; 49: 462-68.
61. Sharma VK, Das S, Mondal S, Goswami U. Effect of sahaj yoga on autonomic patients in healthy subjects and patients of major depression. Biomedicine 2008; 28: 139-141.
62. Stancák A Jr, Kuna M. EEG changes during forced alternate nostril breathing. Int J Psychophysiol. 1994; 18: 75-79.
63. Streeter CC, Jensen JE, Perlmutter RM, Cabral HJ, Tian H, Terhune DB, Ciraulo DA, Renshaw PF. Yoga asana sessions increase brain GABA levels: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2007; 13: 419-26.
64. Tani S, Nagao K, Anazawa T, Kawamata H, Furuya S, Takahashi H, Iida K, Matsumoto M, Washio T, Kumabe N, Hirayama A. Association of body mass index with coronary plaque regression: 6-month prospective study. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2009; 16: 275-82.
65. Telles S, Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR, Desiraju T. Physiological changes in sports teachers following 3 months of training in Yoga. Indian J Med Sci. 1993; 47: 235-8.
66. Telles S, Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR. Breathing through a particular nostril can alter metabolism and autonomic activities. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol.1994; 38: 133-137.
67. Telles S, Nagarathna R, Vani PR, Nagendra HR. A combination of focusing and defocusing through yoga reduces optical illusion more than focusing alone. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1997; 41: 179-82.
68. Telles S, Praghuraj P, Ghosh A, Nagendra HR. Effect of a one-month yoga training program on performance in a mirror-tracing task. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006; 50:187-90.
69. Telles S, Raghuraj P, Maharana S, Nagendra HR. Immediate effect of three yoga breathing techniques on performance on a letter-cancellation task. Percept Mot Skills. 2007; 104:1289-96.
70. Tooley GA, Armstrong SM, Norman TR, Sali A. Acute increases in night-time plasma melatonin levels following a period of meditation. Biol Psychol. 2000; 53: 69-78.
71. Vani PR, Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR, Telles S. Progressive increase in critical flicker fusion frequency following yoga training. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1997 Jan; 41(1):71-4.
72. Vempati RP, Telles S. Yoga based guided relaxation reduces sympathetic activity judged from baseline levels. Psychol Rep. 2002; 90: 487-94.
73. Vijayalakshmi P, Madanmohan, Bhavanani AB, Patil A and Kumar Babu P. Modulation of stress induced by isometric handgrip test in hypertensive patients following yogic relaxation training. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2004; 48: 59-64.
74. Woolery A, Myers H, Sternlieb B, Zeltzer L. A yoga intervention for young adults with elevated symptoms of depression. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004; 10:60-63.
75. Yadav RK, Ray RB, Vempati R, Bijlani RL. Effect of a comprehensive yoga-based lifestyle modification program on lipid peroxidation. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005; 49: 358-62.
76. Yogendra J, Yogendra HJ, Ambardekar S, Lele RD, Shetty S, Dave M, Husein N. Beneficial effects of yoga lifestyle on reversibility of ischaemic heart disease: caring heart project of International Board of Yoga. J Assoc Physicians India. 2004; 52: 283-289.

Terms of Use/Privacy Policy/ Disclaimer/ Other Policies:
You agree that by using our site, you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by all of our terms of use/privacy policy/ disclaimer/ other policies (click here for details).

This work and its PDF file(s) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.