Background: While yoga is thought to reduce the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, there are no studies on insulin sensitivity in long term practitioners of yoga. We assessed insulin sensitivity and cardiac autonomic function in long term practitioners of yoga.
Methods: Fifteen healthy, young, male practitioners of yoga were compared with 15 young, healthy males who did not practice yoga matched for body-mass index. Fasting insulin sensitivity was measured in the fasting state by the hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp.
Results: There were no significant differences between the groups in their anthropometry or body composition. However, the fasting plasma insulin was significantly lower in the yoga group. The yoga group was also more insulin sensitive (yoga 7.82 [2.29] v. control 4.86 [11.97] (mg/[kg.min])/(microU/ml), p < 0.001). While the body weight and waist circumference were negatively correlated with glucose disposal rate in the controls, there were no similar correlations in the yoga group. The yoga group had significantly higher low-frequency power and lower normalized high-frequency power.
Conclusion: Long term yoga practice (for 1 year or more) is associated with increased insulin sensitivity and attenuates the negative relationship between body weight or waist circumference and insulin sensitivity.