Effects of Hatha Yoga Practice on the Health-Related Aspects of Physical Fitness

Authors

  • Mark D. Tran MS,

    1. From the Department of Exercise Science, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA;1 and the Department of Internal Medicine, Davis School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA2
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  • 1 Robert G. Holly PhD,

    1. From the Department of Exercise Science, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA;1 and the Department of Internal Medicine, Davis School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA2
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  • 1 Jake Lashbrook BS,

    1. From the Department of Exercise Science, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA;1 and the Department of Internal Medicine, Davis School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA2
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  • and 1 Ezra A. Amsterdam MD 2

    1. From the Department of Exercise Science, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA;1 and the Department of Internal Medicine, Davis School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA2
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Robert G. Holly, PhD, Department of Exercise Science,
University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616

Abstract

Ten healthy, untrained volunteers (nine females and one male), ranging in age from 18–27 years, were studied to determine the effects of hatha yoga practice on the health-related aspects of physical fitness, including muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and pulmonary function. Subjects were required to attend a minimum of two yoga classes per week for a total of 8 weeks. Each yoga session consisted of 10 minutes of pranayamas (breath-control exercises), 15 minutes of dynamic warm-up exercises, 50 minutes of asanas (yoga postures), and 10 minutes of supine relaxation in savasana (corpse pose). The subjects were evaluated before and after the 8-week training program. Isokinetic muscular strength for elbow extension, elbow flexion, and knee extension increased by 31%, 19%, and 28% (p<0.05), respectively, whereas isometric muscular endurance for knee flexion increased 57% (p<0.01). Ankle flexibility, shoulder elevation, trunk extension, and trunk flexion increased by 13% (p<0.01), 155% (p<0.001), 188% (p<0.001), and 14% (p<0.05), respectively. Absolute and relative maximal oxygen uptake increased by 7% and 6%, respectively (p<0.01). These findings indicate that regular hatha yoga practice can elicit improvements in the health-related aspects of physical fitness.

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