Turn to yoga to curb mental disorders, lifestyle diseases
Medical experts present at the Yoga Science Meet said practising the form of exercise can help prevent lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart attacks, and mental disorders like schizophrenia.
The discussion was a part of the ongoing 107th Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru. “A major chunk of the healthcare spending today goes towards the treatment of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart attack. And, even then these diseases can just me managed, not cured. The best and the most economical option is to prevent these. But, for that we need to look at the root cause,” said Dr Indranil Basu Ray, consultant cardiologist at St Francis Hospital in Memphis, USA and an Additional Professor of Cardiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh.
“But no doctor tells you that these diseases do not start with high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels, it starts at least 20 years before with stress. And, research has proven that when a person is continuously stressed out, the brain changes in a way that the person is continuously stressed out, even in the absence of the stresser. This is known as toxic stress. Yoga and meditation provide bio feedback that helps in controlling the body’s blood pressure, heart rate and other stress response.”
Yoga can also prevent infectious diseases by improving body’s defence mechanism, he added.
“Not only stress, yoga can help people in acclimatising to higher altitudes better, said Dr Akshay Anand, a neurologist from Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh.
“Anyone who has practised yoga, says they feel connected to themselves and to those around them. We have observed this feeling of connectedness in schizophrenia patient by doing a randomised control trial where we saw that patients who did yoga along with taking their medicines showed marked improvement over those who did not. We also saw that it improved the mirror neuron effect that helps in social cognition. Yoga and meditation also improved the oxytocin levels that help people in feeling connected,” said Dr BN Gangadhar, director, National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).