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Purpose: Yoga means unity of mind and body. It has an effective role in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression and thus it can be used as complementary medicine. It not only is effective for strengthening the body but also incorporates appropriate breathing techniques, mindfulness, and meditation in order to achieve the maximum benefits. The objective of this study is to assess the findings of selected articles regarding the therapeutic effects of yoga and to provide a comprehensive review of the benefits of regular yoga practice.
Subjects and Methods: In order to locate research studies and interventions that examined the therapeutic effects of yoga, databases were searched through Google Scholar and PubMed. The keywords entered into the database were Yoga, therapeutic effects, stress, anxiety, depression, chronic disease, arthritis, low backache, diabetes, cancer and pregnancy and articles from 1993 to 2007 were searched.
Results: It is revealed that Yoga improves physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual health and offers an effective method of managing and reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It also triggers neurohormonal mechanisms that bring about health benefits, evidenced by the suppression of sympathetic activity. Yoga should be considered as a complementary therapy or alternative method for medical therapy in the treatment of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders as it has been shown to create a greater sense of well-being, increase feelings of relaxation, improve self-confidence and body image, improve efficiency, better interpersonal relationships, increase attentiveness, lower irritability, and encourage an optimistic outlook on life.
Conclusion: Yoga teaches us to slow down, quieten our minds and connect with our inner selves which ultimately help in relieving us from the pressures and stressors of this modern day life.
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