It's been long understood that yoga benefits people's minds as well as bodies and now, scientists claim that it can even benefit those with epilepsy.
According to a recent study that was published in Neurology, practicing yoga can help lower anxiety and feelings of stigma associated with having epilepsy, in addition to lowering seizure frequency.
Over 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, a noncommunicable brain illness that affects people of all ages, making it one of the most common neurological disorders.
It is estimated that up to 70% of epileptics can live seizure-free lives if they receive the proper diagnosis and care.
Currently, medication, routine hospital checkups, and avoiding triggers are some treatments for epilepsy.
"People with epilepsy often face stigma that can cause them to feel different than others due to their own health condition, and that can have a significant impact on their quality of life."- Manjari Tripathi, study author
He continues by saying that this stigma can have a negative impact on a person's life in a variety of ways, including treatments, ER visits, and poor mental health.
The team examined Indian participants with epilepsy (who were, on average, 30 years old) by asking personal questions regarding discrimination, bias, and mood. Based on participants' responses, they then calculated the level of stigma.
Afterward, they took 160 individuals who satisfied the requirements for suffering stigma and who had, on average, one seizure a week.
Then, subjects were randomized into either sham yoga or real yoga therapy. Positive affirmations, breathing techniques, meditation, and muscle-loosening movements were all part of yoga therapy.
Sham yoga included similar poses as yoga, but participants were not instructed in two essential yoga poses thought to elicit a relaxation response: calm, coordinated breathing, and awareness of one's own body's movements and sensations.
Over the course of three months, each group attended seven 45 to 60 minute supervised group sessions.
Additionally, participants were required to practice sessions for 30 minutes at least five times a week at home.
In a journal, they recorded their yoga practices and seizures. Participants were tracked for three additional months following the initial therapy.
Yoga and its link with epilepsy
Researchers discovered that those in the real yoga therapy group were more likely to have diminished stigma associated with their condition than those who practiced sham yoga.
Additionally, compared to those who practiced sham yoga, those who practiced authentic yoga had a greater than four-fold chance of experiencing a 50% or greater decrease in the frequency of their seizures after six months.
Tripathi ends by saying that these study results highlight the importance of taking into account alternative therapies and activities for stigmatized individuals with epilepsy.
Not only may yoga help lessen stigma, but it can also enhance consciousness and quality of life.