New study of yoga’s benefits for metabolic syndrome

I’m always heartened when I read about a new study of yoga’s benefits. It’s the best of the East and the best of the West: the scientific method and this ancient philosophy/practice.

Of course, yogis know from experience that yoga builds health. Non-yogis may need scientific proof that yoga is good for them before beginning a practice.

Here’s news of a new study: a year-long study of the health benefits of yoga to those with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome can occur with overweight adults who have high blood pressure, high insulin and/or cholesterol levels, and excess fat around the waist. These conditions increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The article says that about one-fourth of adults in the United States has some combination of these risky conditions.


“We know that diet and exercise work when it comes to reducing an individual’s risk of diabetes and heart disease, but those behaviors are very hard for some people to sustain,” said PRYSMS lead investigator Alka Kanaya, MD, an associate professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and a faculty member at the UCSF Diabetes Center. “If we can offer something novel that is enjoyable and easy to sustain, we can help combat these health epidemics.”

Yoga has been found to improve specific metabolic risk factors, such as blood pressure, body mass index and insulin sensitivity, but the 10-week UCSF pilot trial in 2008 was the first to examine its effects in individuals with metabolic syndrome, said Kanaya, who also led that study.

The pilot study found that after 15 90-minute yoga sessions over a 10-week period, “there was a trend to reduced blood pressure, a significant increase in energy level, and trends to improvement in well-being and stress” among study participants, according to a published report in the journal Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.

The pilot study centered on restorative yoga, resting in various poses with the body supported for several minutes at a time.

Yay for a pilot study centering on restorative yoga! Which anyone, even nonyogis, can do.

The full study will compare restorative yoga and active stretching, and researchers expect both to show benefits to this group.

“If restorative yoga or active stretching are effective in reducing metabolic risk factors, the mechanism is likely through relaxation and stress reduction,” she said. “The initial results are encouraging enough to warrant a longer, larger trial of both behavioral interventions.”

Oh, yeah, and the article has photo of Cora Wen doing a seated side bend. That’s how it came to me. I’ve never met her but just love her on Facebook and hope to study with her some day.

If you know anyone in San Francisco or San Diego with these conditions, the article ends with contact info for prospective participants.


Also, I’m congratuling some folks I know and love with a well-planned and so far successful change in eating habits resulting in healthy, respectable weight loss. You know who you are, darlings!!!!

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