The World Health Organization has reported that 64 million people have developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD). Three million people died of COPD in 2004, and it is predicted to become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030 [1
]. COPD is a lung ailment characterized by persistent blockage of airflow and symptoms such as breathlessness, abnormal sputum, and chronic cough. In a study of 29 elderly patients with COPD, participation in a 12-week Iyengar yoga training program reduced dyspnea-related distress (Baseline; 2.6 ± 2.8, 12-week; 1.6 ± 1.7, effect size (ES)=0.67, p=0.08) and improved the functional performance of patients (Baseline; 2.0 ± 0.5, 12-week; 2.2 ± 0.4, ES=0.79, p=0.04) compared to usual-care control group [2
]. In another study of 25 patients with COPD, the anxiety score (pre-Iyengar yoga; 3.91 ± 1.03, post-Iyengar yoga; 4.50 ± 0.76) in the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the fatigue score (pre-Iyengar yoga; 6.63 ± 4.63, post-Iyengar yoga; 3.25 ± 1.98) in the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire improved significantly. Moreover, the clinically important scores of these patients changed after they completed the 12-week Iyengar yoga program [3
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. According to a report released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the total number of cancer deaths was 8.2 million in 2012, with lung (1.59 million deaths), liver (745 thousand deaths), stomach (723 thousand deaths), colorectal (694 thousand deaths), and breast cancers
(521 thousand deaths) causing the highest number deaths [4
]. Chandwani et al. [5
] investigated the effect of a 6-week yoga program on the quality of life (QOL) of 163 breast cancer patients. The physical component scale scores and physical functioning of the yoga group improved to a greater extent than those of the control group at 1 and 3 months after radiotherapy. In a study of mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MBCR), which involved mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga, stress symptoms and QOL showed greater improvements in the MBCR group than in the control group [6
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the most common cause of death in the world. According to an announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of deaths from CVD was about 17.3 million in 2008, representing 30% of all global deaths, and will increase to reach 23.3 million by 2030 [7
]. The most important risk factors of CVD are obesity, diabetes mellitus. Sarvottam et al. [10
] reported that a short-term yoga-based lifestyle intervention for 2 hours each day for 10 days decreased interleukin (IL)-6 and increased adiponectin in 51 overweight and obese men. High levels of IL-6 and low levels of adiponectin were associated with CVD risk. Therefore, a short-term yoga-based lifestyle intervention may be an important modality to reduce the risk for CVD as indicated by a decrease in IL-6 and an increase in adiponectin in overweight and obese men. In the study of 231 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose, serum total cholesterol, very LDL and malondialdehyde decreased and the activity of superoxide dismutase increased in the yoga groups after the 6-months Hatha yoga program [11
]. Hunter et al. [12
] investigated the effect of Bikram yoga
on arterial stiffness and insulin resistance in 24 young and 18 older adults. As a result, total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, plasma insulin concentrations, and scores on the homeostatic model of the assessment of insulin resistance decreased in older adults, and carotid artery compliance increased and β-stiffness index decreased in young adults after the yoga program.
Taken together, these finding suggest that yoga has positive effects on patients with chronic diseases including COPD, breast cancer, obesity and diabetes mellitus. The practice of various styles of yoga has become popular recently, and yoga has been used as complementary and alternative therapy in Western countries.