Physical and mental health at high altitude of individuals doing yogic practices

J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2022 Oct-Dec;13(4):647-651. doi: 10.25259/JNRP-2022-3-25. Epub 2022 Dec 3.


Objectives: There is an increase trend in the past few years, in the number of people traveling to high altitude for recreational activities such as pilgrims, mountaineering, and climbing and for occupational purposes such as defense and mining which have resulted in increasing in hypoxia conditions and anxiety-related medical problems at high altitude. As it is known that mental stress affects brain and heart functions, a recent research performed on Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) further validated the effectiveness of SKY on participants (practicing SKY) as compared to control after quantifying mental stress. To study the physiological effect of SKY advance breathing technique when immediately ascends to high altitude, we wanted to study the level of stress and mental well-being of lowlanders at high altitude.

Materials and methods: It is an interventional study performed at high altitudes, with low landers as participants where their biochemical and psychological parameters are being assessed.

Results: The result for biochemical parameter cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), very low-density lipoproteins, LDL-HDL ratio, and cholesterol-HDL ratio showed a significant decrease in the pre- and post-analyses values with P ≤ 0.001. Acute mountain sickness (AMS), Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, and State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) also show a decreasing trend with significant result in AMS, mental well-being, and non-significant in STAI p value is P = 0.016, P = 0.055, and P = 0.125, respectively.

Conclusion: We observed positive outcome both in for biochemical and stress-related parameters with SKY advance program practitioners who have rapidly ascend to high altitude.

Keywords: Altitude sickness; Mental health; Mind-body therapies; Physiological stress.