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Yoga for Prevention of Diseases - ICICI Lombard

Preventive healthcare is receiving growing preference across the globe. Read on to find why yoga is considered an ideal option.

  • 21 Jun 2016
  • 2 min read

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that entails physical postures, meditation, and deep breathing techniques. It is a spiritual discipline based on subtle science that focuses on bringing physical and mental strength into coordination. One of the many benefits of yoga is that it can help you deal with stress.

Preventive vs. curative care

The cost of healthcare has skyrocketed. Today, the average hospitalisation and related non-medical expenditures reach up to ₹16,956 (in rural regions) and ₹26,455 (in urban areas) per treatment. With limited healthcare resources and an increase in their demand, health insurance is crucial and it is safe to say that preventive measures hold the key to future healthcare.

The regular practice of yoga can help prevent non-communicable diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular illness, thereby reducing the need for curative medicine. Yoga also serves as a stalwart solution to keep chronic back pain, arthritis and other lifestyle diseases at bay. Research published in the Complementary Therapies of M\edicines reveals that yoga is also effective in treating pain, anxiety, and depression in patients with chronic back pain.

Types of Yoga

1. Vinyasa yoga:

Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word made up of "Vi" and "Nyasa." Vi means variation, whereas Nyasa means within defined parameters. This type of yoga is performed by stringing posture together and moving from one to the next while breathing.

2. Hatha yoga:

Hatha is a Sanskrit term that means force. While performing this yoga, all the five senses of your body are involved. The benefits of yoga (hatha yoga) include improved sleep, stress release, and relief from neck and back pain.

3. Iyengar yoga:

The Iyengar yoga style was founded by B.K.S. Iyengar. This kind of yoga is performed by practising asanas that align the physical body structurally. The features that distinguish it from others include the use of props, precision, and sequence.

4. Kundalini yoga:

This form of yoga is performed by breathing exercises, repetitious positions, chanting, and singing. This yoga's primary goal is to awaken one's spiritual energy. Kundalini yoga is often known as 'yoga of awareness’ because of this feature.

5. Bikram yoga:

Popularised by Bikram Chowdhary, this form of yoga is a variation of Hatha yoga. It is done for 90 minutes by performing 26 asanas and 2 pranayamas in a similar order.

6. Ashtanga yoga:

This style of yoga is performed to strengthen muscles and increase physical strength. The benefits of yoga (Ashtanga yoga) include body rejuvenation, toned muscles and a flexible body. The key steps involved in this yoga are:


  • Control
  • Rule of conduct
  • Poses
  • Breathing control
  • Sensory perceptions withdrawal
  • Concentration
  • Uninterrupted meditation

Complete equilibrium

7. Yin yoga:

This style of yoga is characterised by passive floor postures focusing on the lower body, particularly the lower spine, hips, inner thighs and pelvis. The positions can last up to 5 minutes and, in some cases, even longer.

8. Anusara yoga:

Anusara is a Sanskrit term that consists of two words—“Anu,” which means with, and “Sara,” which means flow. Anusara Yoga's varied positions emphasise the heart and are in complete alignment with breathing. It is a modern form of yoga and there are over 260 poses to choose from.

9. Jivamukti yoga:

Jivamukti is a Sanskrit word made up of "Jiva" and "Mukti." Jiva means living soul, whereas Mukti refers to the soul's liberation from the endless cycle of death and rebirth. Jivamukti yoga is based on 5 principles of meditation, devotion, music, scripture, and non-violence. This form of yoga is intense and requires high physical involvement. The basic moves of this yoga are adapted from Hatha yoga.

Also read:

Benefits of Yoga

Although yoga is a deep intervention with many advantages for the body and mind, here are the top five reasons why you should do yoga regularly:

  • Improves flexibility

Making yoga a part of your routine will help you improve your flexibility from day one. Stiff muscles and connective tissues, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause bodily pain and lead to improper posture.

  • Perfects posture

An incorrect posture can lead to back, neck, muscles and joint issues. It can also cause osteoarthritis of the spine. Practising yoga helps you balance your posture and sustain it longer.

  • Protects spine

The twisting and bending exercises such as backbends and forward-bends help you keep your spinal disc supple. A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine stated that reducing lower back pain and increasing spinal mobility are some of the benefits of practising yoga.

  • Increases blood flow

Practising yoga improves blood circulation and provides more oxygen to our cells. The twisting poses wring out venous blood whilst allowing the oxygenated blood to flow.

  • Boosts immunity power

Dr Tiffany Field, Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, conducted a study providing a comprehensive overview of the effect of yoga on anxiety and depression, pain, cardiovascular, autoimmune and immune conditions. This report stated the benefits of yoga on the immune system and pregnancy.

Asanas and prayanam

Whether it is relaxation or joint pain or getting rid of the nagging backache, you can hope to find a Yogasana cure for it. Some asanas that can be practised as preventive measures are:


Stand with your legs spaced out such that the distance between them is around two and a half feet. Place your left hand, palm facing downwards, on the ground beside your left foot and raise your right hand straight up while looking up. This forms a three-angled structure with the hand at one angle and the two feet at the other two angles, hence the name trikonasana. This asana is beneficial for:

  • Healthy pregnancy term
    • Reduction of blood pressure
    • Controlled blood flow throughout the body
    • Reduction of stress and anxiety

Ardha halasana:

Also called the half-plough pose, this asana is performed by lying on the back and then slowly raising the left leg until it is perpendicular to the body. After holding it for a few seconds, slowly bring the leg down and lift the right leg (and repeat). This asana is useful for:

  • Improving the functions of abdominal organs
    Constipation and indigestion
    • Reducing belly fats
    • Toning thigh muscles
    • Improving appetite
    • Curing arthritis and lumbar spondylitis

Pranayam refers to "extension of the prana, or the life force." According to Ayurveda and ancient Hindu texts:

  • Prana is the life force that pervades the entire universe and is what makes us "living."
    Prana enters our body through the breaths we take.
    • On passing away, prana leaves the body with the last breath.

Pranayam aims to exert voluntary control over breathing and creates an awareness of the breathing process. Let us see a few of these exercises before we get into the details of their benefits.


Sit in a relaxed lotus posture or Sukhasana and take a deep breath. Hold your breath for a few seconds and release it gently. Repeat this 5 to 10 times. Remember, always breathe through the nose and not through the mouth.


Sit in a relaxed lotus posture and take a deep breath. Exhale by pushing the stomach inside. Inhalation should be done with the least effort after that. Concentrate on exhaling by pushing the stomach. Repeat this around 25 times in the beginning and take it up to 200 times.

Anulom vilom:

Sit in a relaxed lotus posture. Using the thumb, press the sides of the right nostril to close it and breathe through the left nostril. Now, using the ring and middle finger, press the side of the left nostril and exhale through the open right nostril. Next, inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. Repeat this 25 times in the beginning and take it up to 200 times.

Pranayam exercises are known to cure indigestion, migraine, asthma, obesity, and high blood pressure. As such, it is also considered yoga for diseases or the asanas for preventive measures.

Yoga for body and mind

Yoga for body

Yoga is a mental, spiritual, and physical discipline that has been practised for thousands of years. The benefits of yoga are not limited to burning calories; it is much more than that. Some of the common poses that can work wonders on your body include seated meditation pose, plank posture, chaturanga and full pigeon. In addition, there is a variety of yoga for diseases. Some of them are:

  • Matsyasana – to deal with PCOS
  • Shishuasana - to straighten your vertebrae
  • Vrikshasana - to deal with spine problems

Ardha Matsyendrasana - to help you deal with diabetes 

Yoga for mind

The benefits of yoga also include strengthening one's brainpower. Some of the common yoga asanas to improve your mental strength, while helping you to concentrate, are:

  • Padmasana - often known as the lotus pose, is excellent for soothing the mind and reducing muscle tension
  • Sarvangasana - helps in improving your focus
  • Paschimottanasana or a seated forward bend pose - well-known for improving memory power

The science behind yoga

Regularly exercising from a young age is a proven preventive method for many illnesses. Yoga, with its non-invasive methods, takes a primary position in preventive healthcare. A study conducted at the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research showed that yoga was effective for ailments such as hypertension and coronary artery disease, where stress plays a vital role.

For illnesses diagnosed at an early stage, yoga is an ideal method for improving quality of life alongside medical care.

The therapeutic effects of yoga lead to improved physiological functions. For example, practising pranayama and asanas enhances physical fitness and cardio endurance. Yogic postures and synchronised breathing have also been proven effective in reducing stress. From these positive factors, it is distinctly clear that yoga provides holistic healthcare as an addition to medicine.

Prevention is better than the cure

The awareness of preventive healthcare has spread considerably among people. With a growing number of people turning to fitness and wholesome healthcare, yoga is considered the need of the hour. Corporate offices, schools and other private institutions are starting wellness programs to promote this age-old system that unifies the mind, body and soul.

In addition, health insurance providers are introducing special add-ons that provide coverage for preventive healthcare and encourage customers to resort to such wellness habits. Covered under a special section of Ayurveda Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), in-patient expenses are reimbursed under the plan.

The identification of this traditional art in the present world of digitalisation and technological medicine is a refreshing change. With active participation from the scientific community, the more unexplored benefits of yoga and its role in preventive healthcare could be known.

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