A published study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed the Hatha yoga may help the body in the maintenance of blood lipids and reduction of inflammation. The researchers from Sweden also considered Hatha yoga’s potential in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
What is Hatha yoga?
Yoga is a popular fitness exercise and method of relaxation in America. According to the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, around 21 million adults and 1.3 million children practice yoga in America. There are various styles of yoga, each with its own practices and philosophies. The most widely used style among practitioners is the Hatha yoga.
Hatha yoga is an old yoga system which incorporates asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises). The main philosophy of Hatha yoga is the priming of the body and the mind. It is designed to prepare the person for meditation. Practitioners sometimes call it a “dual” type of yoga because one of its beliefs includes the duality of two opposites: the sun (“ha”, in Hindi) and the moon (“tha”).
The term hatha yoga is used in such a broad way that it is sometimes overlap with other styles. For that reason, it is often called the “general category” of yoga. This is because it incorporates practices and poses from all the different styles, letting its practitioners experience a bit of each one. Because of this, Hatha yoga great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style.
Aside from being a form of exercise, Hatha yoga, along with the other styles of yoga, is also considered as complementary treatment alongside traditional Western medicine.
Hatha yoga has lipid-improving and anti-inflammatory effects
The researchers wanted to examine how practicing high-intensity yoga exercises (HIY), particularly Hatha yoga, affects the body. The researchers’ basis idea was the long list of health benefits associated with yoga, but the studies on the physiological effects of high-intensity yoga were limited.
Using a randomized control trial, the researchers gathered 44 participants (38 women and 6 men) for the study. They all within the 20-40 year range, and all of them reported performing exercise only two hours a week or only one hour at a high intensity. Afterwards, they were randomly assigned into two groups: the HIY group and the control group. The HIY group had home training while the control group had no yoga or home exercises.
The participants were measured at baseline and after the six-week program. Their parameters for measurement were as follows:
- cardiovascular fitness (maximal oxygen consumption, estimated from the Cooper running test)
- ratings of perceived exertion (RPE)
- heart rate (HR)
- heart rate recovery (HRR)
- blood pressure (BP)
- apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1)
- apolipoprotein B (ApoB)
- glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c)
The results showed that there was not much difference between the HIY and control group in terms of cardiovascular fitness, HR, HRR, BP, and any of the blood parameters. However, secondary findings revealed that the levels of ApoA1 and adiponectin levels improved significantly in the HIY group.
ApoA1 is a component found in high-density cholesterol (HDL). ApoA1 helps in bringing out the cholesterol and phospolipids from inside the cell and combines with them. This forms HDL. HDL, or the good cholesterol, is responsible for carrying cholesterol and fats called phospolipids to the liver, where they can be broken down. This helps prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases.
On the other hand, adiponectin is derived from the adipose tissue. Some studies have pointed out the inverse relationship of adiponectin and numerous inflammatory markers. Adiponectin modulates the pathways in cells, which can reduce inflammation in response to stimuli. This ability suggests adiponectin’s beneficial effects to cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
The results showed that performing high-intensity yoga exercises can improve the maintenance of blood lipids and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. This further affirms the health benefits associated with yoga and its potential in helping prevent heart disease.