Yoga in Australia: results of a national survey

Yoga in Australia: results of a national survey

Cohen, M. Wolfe, R. Mai, T. Lewis, D. A Randomised, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial of a Topical Cream containing Glucosamine Sulfate Chondroitin Sulfate and Camphor for Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Journal of Rheumatology, 30 (3):523-8, 2003 [PubMed] [PDF – see above]

Abstract

 

INTRODUCTION:
The therapeutic benefits of yoga and meditation are well documented, yet little is known about the practice of yoga in Australia or elsewhere, whether as a physical activity, a form of therapy, a spiritual path or a lifestyle.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
To investigate the practice of yoga in Australia, a national survey of yoga practitioners was conducted utilizing a comprehensive web-based questionnaire. Respondents were self-selecting to participate. A total of 3,892 respondents completed the survey. Sixty overseas respondents and 1265 yoga teachers (to be reported separately) were excluded, leaving 2,567 yoga practitioner respondents.
RESULTS:
The typical yoga survey respondent was a 41-year-old, tertiary educated, employed, health-conscious female (85% women). Asana (postures) and vinyasa (sequences of postures) represented 61% of the time spent practicing, with the other 39% devoted to the gentler practices of relaxation, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation and instruction. Respondents commonly started practicing yoga for health and fitness but often continued practicing for stress management. One in five respondents practiced yoga for a specific health or medical reason which was seen to be improved by yoga practice. Of these, more people used yoga for stress management and anxiety than back, neck or shoulder problems, suggesting that mental health may be the primary health-related motivation for practicing yoga. Healthy lifestyle choices were seen to be more prevalent in respondents with more years of practice. Yoga-related injuries occurring under supervision in the previous 12 months were low at 2.4% of respondents.
CONCLUSIONS:
Yoga practice was seen to assist in the management of specific health issues and medical conditions. Regular yoga practice may also exert a healthy lifestyle effect including vegetarianism, non-smoking, reduced alcohol consumption, increased exercise and reduced stress with resulting cost benefits to the community.

Oxygen consumption changes with Yoga practices: a systematic review

Oxygen consumption changes with Yoga practices: a systematic review

Tyagi, A. & Cohen, M., (2013) Oxygen Consumption Changes With Yoga Practices A Systematic Review Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine vol. 18(4) 290-308

Abstract

 

Oxygen consumption varies with physical and mental activity as well as pathological conditions. Although there is a strong relationship between yoga and metabolic parameters, the relationship between yoga and oxygen consumption has not yet been formally reviewed. This systematic review attempted to include all studies of yoga that also measured oxygen consumption or metabolic rate as an outcome. A total of 58 studies were located involving between 1 and 104 subjects (average 21). The studies were generally of poor methodological quality and demonstrated great heterogeneity with different experimental designs, yoga practices, time periods, and small sample sizes. Studies report yoga practices to have profound metabolic effects producing both increase and decrease in oxygen consumption, ranging from 383% increase with cobra pose to 40% decrease with meditation. Compared to nonpractitioners, basal oxygen consumption is reported to be up to 15% less in regular yoga practitioners, and regular yoga practice is reported to have a training effect with oxygen consumption during submaximal exercise decreasing by 36% after 3 months. Yoga breathing practices emphasize breathing patterns and retention ratios as well as unilateral nostril breathing, and these factors appear critical in influencing oxygen consumption. A number of studies report extraordinary volitional control over metabolism in advanced yoga practitioners who appear to be able to survive extended periods in airtight pits and to exceed the limits of normal human endurance. More rigorous research with standardized practices is required to determine the mechanisms of yoga’s metabolic effects and the relevance of yoga practices in different clinical populations.

Yoga and hypertension: a systematic review

Yoga and hypertension: a systematic review

Tyagi, A., and Cohen, M. (2014) Yoga and Hypertension: A Systematic Review, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 20(2):32-59

Abstract

 

Lifestyle modification is a cornerstone of hypertension treatment, yet most recommendations currently focus on
diet and exercise and do not consider stress reduction strategies. Yoga is a spiritual path that may reduce blood
pressure through reducing stress, increasing parasympathetic activation and altering baroreceptor sensitivity;
however, despite existing reviews on yoga and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and anxiety
suggesting yoga may reduce blood pressure, no comprehensive review has focused on yoga and hypertension.
A systematic review of all published studies on yoga and hypertension was performed revealing 39 cohort studies,
30 non-randomised controlled trials, 48 randomised controlled trials and 3 case reports with durations ranging
from 1 week to 4 years and involving a total of 6693 subjects. Most studies reported that yoga effectively reduced
blood pressure in both normotensive and hypertensive populations. These studies suggest that yoga could be an
effective adjunct therapy for hypertension and worthy of inclusion in clinical guidelines, yet the great
heterogeneity of yoga practices and the variable quality of the research makes it difficult to recommend any
specific yoga practice for hypertension. Future research needs to focus on high quality clinical trials along with
studies on the mechanisms of action of different yoga practices.

Australians self-prescribe yoga for mental health

Low and then high frequency oscillations of distinct right cortical networks are successively enhanced by medium and long term Yoga meditation practice.

Thomas, JW., Jamieson, G. Cohen, M. (2014) Low and then high frequency oscillations of distinct right cortical networks are successively enhanced by medium and long term Yoga meditation practice. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:197 doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00197

Abstract

 

Meditation proficiency is related to trait-like (learned) effects on brain function, developed over time. Previous studies show increases in EEG power in lower frequency bands (theta, alpha) in experienced meditators in both meditation states and baseline conditions. Higher gamma band power has been found in advanced Buddhist meditators, yet it is not known if this occurs in Yoga meditation practices. This study used eLORETA to compare differences in cortical source activity underlying scalp EEG from intermediate (mean experience 4 years) and advanced (mean experience 30 years) Australian meditators from the Satyananda Yoga tradition during a body-steadiness meditation, mantra meditation, and non-meditation mental calculation condition. Intermediate Yoga meditators showed greater source activity in low frequencies (particularly theta and alpha1) during mental calculation, body-steadiness and mantra meditation. A similar spatial pattern of significant differences was found in all conditions but the number of significant voxels was double during body-steadiness and mantra meditation than in the non-meditation (calculation) condition. These differences were greatest in right (R) superior frontal and R precentral gyri and extended back to include the R parietal and occipital lobes. Advanced Yoga meditators showed greater activity in high frequencies (beta and especially gamma) in all conditions but greatly expanded during meditation practice. Across all conditions (meditation and non-meditation) differences were greatest in the same regions: R insula, R inferior frontal gyrus and R anterior temporal lobe. Distinct R core networks were identified in alpha1 (8-10 Hz) and gamma (25-42 Hz) bands, respectively. The voxels recruited to these networks greatly expanded during meditation practice to include homologous regions of the left hemisphere. Functional interpretation parallels traditionally described stages of development in Yoga proficiency.