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Post by hSingh on Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:19 pm

Himalayan natives practice yoga-like exercises as part of their everyday activity. Some believe this may help these people live and work in such high altitudes where oxygen levels are much lower than at sea level. Many athletes spend time living and training at high altitudes before competition. This promotes a legal blood doping effect in which a temporary natural increase in red blood cell production enhances performance.

However, many people suffer from acute hypoxia (better known as altitude sickness) when attempting to live and work at these high altitudes. Some never recover until they go back down to sea level and scientists aren’t sure how to correct this.

Yoga induces long-term changes in respiratory function and control. A group of European researchers tested whether yoga represents a successful strategy for high-altitude adaptation. The scientists compared ventilatory, cardiovascular and hematological parameters in 12 Caucasian yoga trainees and 12 control sea-level residents, at baseline and after a 2 week exposure to high altitude in Nepal.

The subjects practicing yoga maintained a satisfactory oxygen transport at high altitude, with minimal increase in ventilation and with reduced hematological changes. These responses resembled those of Himalayan natives. Respiratory adaptations induced by the practice of yoga may be an efficient strategy to cope with altitude-induced hypoxia.

Source: European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2007.

-Canuck Singh


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