Objective: The aim of the present study is to highlight the beneficial effects of yoga practice on bio-parameters, such as oxidative stress, antioxidant components, immune functions, and secretion of stress hormones, in healthy young people.
Study design: This study was conducted on healthy volunteers recruited from among university students, who were divided into two groups: a control (no yoga intervention, n=13) group and a yoga (n=12) group. Yoga practice was with an instructor for 90 minutes once a week spread over 12 weeks, with recommendations to practice daily at home for 40 minutes with the help of a DVD. The yoga program consisted of yoga body poses (asanas), exercises involving awareness, voluntary regulation of breath (pranayama), and meditational practices. Whole blood samples were collected when the volunteers had fasted for 8 hours at 0 and 12 weeks. The oxidative stress/antioxidant components, immune-related cytokines, and stress hormones were evaluated in serum or plasma.
Results: Serum levels of nitric oxide, F2-isoprostane, and lipid peroxide were significantly decreased by yoga practice (p<0.05 or p=0.01), whereas serum total glutathione (GSH) contents, activities of GSH-peroxidase, and GSH-s-transferase were remarkably increased after yoga practice compared with the control group (p<0.05 or p=0.01). Yoga practice also significantly increased immune-related cytokines, such as interleukin-12, and interferon-γ, in serum (p<0.05 or p=0.01). Yoga practice significantly reduced the plasma levels of adrenalin (p<0.05) and increased plasma levels of serotonin compared with the control group (p<0.05).
Conclusions: Regular yoga practice remarkably attenuated oxidative stress and improved antioxidant levels of the body. Moreover, yoga beneficially affected stress hormone releases as well as partially improved immune function.