Background: Obese persons often find physical activity difficult. The effects of a yoga and diet change program, emphasizing breathing techniques practiced while seated, was assessed in obese persons.
Material/methods: A single group of 47 persons were assessed on the first and last day of a yoga and diet change program, with 6 days of the intervention between assessments. The assessments were: body mass index (BMI), waist and hip circumferences, mid-arm circumference, body composition, hand grip strength, postural stability, serum lipid profile and fasting serum leptin levels. Participants practiced yoga for 5 hours every day and had a low fat, high fiber, vegetarian diet. Last and first day data were compared using a t-test for paired data.
Results: Following the 6-day residential program, participants showed a decrease in BMI (1.6 percent), waist and hip circumferences, fat-free mass, total cholesterol (7.7 percent decrease), high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (8.7 percent decrease), fasting serum leptin levels (44.2 percent decrease) and an increase in postural stability and hand grip strength (p<0.05, all comparisons).
Conclusions: A 6-day yoga and diet change program decreased the BMI and the fat-free mass. Total cholesterol also decreased due to reduced HDL levels. This suggests that a brief, intensive yoga program with a change in diet can pose certain risks. Benefits seen were better postural stability, grip strength (though a 'practice effect' was not ruled out), reduced waist and hip circumferences and a decrease in serum leptin levels.