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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The effect of long term combined yoga practice on the basal metabolic rate of healthy adults

MS Chaya1*, AV Kurpad2, HR Nagendra1 and R Nagarathna1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Life sciences, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research foundation, No 19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram circle, Bangalore-560019, India

2 Institute of Population Health and Clinical Research, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore 560034, India

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2006, 6:28  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-28

Published: 31 August 2006

Abstract

Background

Different procedures practiced in yoga have stimulatory or inhibitory effects on the basal metabolic rate when studied acutely. In daily life however, these procedures are usually practiced in combination. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the net change in the basal metabolic rate (BMR) of individuals actively engaging in a combination of yoga practices (asana or yogic postures, meditation and pranayama or breathing exercises) for a minimum period of six months, at a residential yoga education and research center at Bangalore.

Methods

The measured BMR of individuals practicing yoga through a combination of practices was compared with that of control subjects who did not practice yoga but led similar lifestyles.

Results

The BMR of the yoga practitioners was significantly lower than that of the non-yoga group, and was lower by about 13 % when adjusted for body weight (P < 0.001). This difference persisted when the groups were stratified by gender; however, the difference in BMR adjusted for body weight was greater in women than men (about 8 and 18% respectively). In addition, the mean BMR of the yoga group was significantly lower than their predicted values, while the mean BMR of non-yoga group was comparable with their predicted values derived from 1985 WHO/FAO/UNU predictive equations.

Conclusion

This study shows that there is a significantly reduced BMR, probably linked to reduced arousal, with the long term practice of yoga using a combination of stimulatory and inhibitory yogic practices.