Whether one is going through an illness or living with a chronic kidney condition, yoga could be one of the lifestyle modification tools that aid other interventions
In Sanskrit, yoga means ‘to unite’ and describes a way to live a healthy life. Yoga was developed as a spiritual practice thousands of years ago. Today, most westerners do yoga for exercise or to reduce stress.
On the occasion of World Yoga Day, celebrated every year on 21 June, let’s understand the physical and mental health benefits that yoga has to offer for people of all ages. Whether you’re going through an illness or living with a chronic kidney condition, yoga could be one of those lifestyle modification tools that aid other interventions.
The kidney is a remarkably intricate organ that maintains the chemical balance by a network of complex sensing and regulating system. They ensure water, salt and acidity levels are maintained precisely within a narrow range and aid cellular function of all organs. Kidneys play a major role in purifying the blood by filtering out toxins from it. They secrete important hormones to help our body produce blood and maintain blood pressure.
According to WHO research, nearly a million lives are lost globally every year due to kidney and urinary tract-related complications. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has increasingly been recognized as an emerging health problem in India. The major contributory factors leading to the development of CKD are diabetes and hypertension . In our current day lives, inappropriate nutrition, stress, and inadequate physical activity results in unhealthy lifestyle and are salient drivers of kidney disease.
Interventions utilizing lifestyle modifications could play an important role in improving health of chronic kidney and dialysis patients. Aerobic and resistance exercises, has significant positive effects on physical fitness, functional capacity, muscle strength, and blood pressure in patients with CKD.
Yoga is composed of mix Asanas, breathing exercises and relaxation meditation techniques. It has shown equivalent benefit to mild or moderate exercises. The benefits are cornered around fitness, flexibility, balance, and mobility, and lastly stress and anxiety. The fact that yoga requires no expensive equipment makes it an inexpensive option and accessible to all.
A recent small, randomized study published in the International Journal of Yoga, showed benefits to patients with chronic kidney diseases. Patients who underwent a structured Yoga intervention for 6 months had a statistically significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and significant improvements in the physical and psychological domain of QOL (quality of life) through Yoga.
While advancements in allopathic science has tremendously advanced diagnostic and therapy options for patients with Kidney disease, the search for complimentary options including Yoga is always sought after by patients and care givers.
Yoga can be safely practiced by men and women of people all ages. It is essential to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher under the guidance of a physician. In real life, as many patients learn to adapt to the challenges of managing chronic diseases like CKD, Yoga is a beneficial adjunct as it is not strenuous on cardiovascular system, if started with light intensity and easier postures.
The author is a nephrologist and senior vice president of NephroPlus