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Role of Yoga in Prevention and Management of Lifestyle Disorders

To live a healthy life it is important to do healthy things and follow a healthy lifestyle. The modern world is facing a pandemic of lifestyle disorders that require changes to be made consciously by individuals themselves. The holistic art and science of Yoga is the best lifestyle ever designed and is effective in managing prevalent lifestyle disorders like diabetes and hypertension.

Yogic lifestyle, Yogic diet, Yogic attitudes and various Yogic practices help man to strengthen himself and develop positive health thus enabling him to withstand stress better. This Yogic “health insurance” is achieved by normalizing the perception of stress, optimizing the reaction to it and by releasing the pent-up stress effectively through various Yogic practices. Yoga is a holistic and integral science of life dealing with the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of the individual and society.

This review paper summarizes important findings of recent research on Yoga in lifestyle disorders including a series of studies at Pondicherry, India documenting positive effects. The majority of studies on Yoga and cardiovascular and metabolic health show positive trends and this augurs well for the future of healthcare in general and the use of Yoga as part of integrative health care system in particular. The major benefits of Yoga may occur due to its lifestyle components (healthy diet, activity, relaxation and positive attitude) as well as the psychosomatic harmonizing effects of pranayama and yogic relaxation.

Yoga places great importance on a proper and healthy lifestyle whose main components are achar (healthy activities), vichar (healthy relationships), vichar (healthy thoughts), ahar (healthy food) and vihar (healthy recreation). The basic Yogic principles are useful in the management of lifestyle disorders are discussed and these include psychological reconditioning and development of appropriate attitudes; stress management normalization of metabolism; and relaxation, visualization, and contemplative practices.

According to tradition, Yoga implies both the process as well as the attainment of a state of psychosomatic, harmony and balance (samatvam yoga uchyate-Bhagavad Gita) and this restoration of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance may be the prime factor behind the changes seen across all short term and long term studies. It has been aptly stated that with no appreciable side effects and multiple collateral benefits, Yoga is generally safe, simple to learn and can be practiced by even ill, elderly or disabled individuals.

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