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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 91-92

Can yoga play a role in improving health-related status of patients with obstructive sleep apnea?

1 Department of Research and Development, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Naturopathy, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission15-Jul-2020
Date of Decision24-Jul-2020
Date of Acceptance10-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication2-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
A Mooventhan
Department of Research and Development, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_168_20

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How to cite this article:
Mooventhan A, Nivethitha L. Can yoga play a role in improving health-related status of patients with obstructive sleep apnea?. Int J Health Allied Sci 2021;10:91-2

How to cite this URL:
Mooventhan A, Nivethitha L. Can yoga play a role in improving health-related status of patients with obstructive sleep apnea?. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Mar 27];10:91-2. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2021/10/1/91/308585


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder of upper airway collapse that occurs during sleep and leads to disrupted sleep and oxygen desaturation. OSA occurs due to a dysfunction of upper airway dilating muscles, especially genioglossus that constitutes a major portion of the tongue. To avoid the closure of the upper airway during sleep, a sufficient amount of genioglossus muscle contraction is essential. Thus, in case of genioglossus muscle dysfunction, upper airway collapse occurs due to insufficient muscle contraction. Muscle training exercises or hypoglossal nerve stimulation are commonly employed for those affected by upper airway muscle dysfunction.[1] Yoga practices such as Sukshma Vyayama, Kechari Mudra, and Sheetali Pranayama (where we use the tongue) might help to improve OSA through stimulating the hypoglossal nerve and improving the strength of genioglossus.

For some patients, accumulation of fluid (edema) around the neck could be a therapeutic target because it causes narrowing of pharyngeal airway lumen.[1] Practice of yogic cleansing techniques such as Vamana Dhauti/Kunjal Kriya or a simple saltwater gargling might help in reducing the fluid retention around the pharynx and thus widen the airway lumen.

Increased body weight and reduced lung functions are major risk factors for OSA. Magnetic resonance imaging findings suggest that fat deposited within the tongue reduces the function of the genioglossus muscle. Obesity increases the risk of OSA by directly affecting upper airway anatomy through fat deposition in surrounding structures and reducing lung functions.[1] Evidences suggest that practice of yoga is effective in improving pulmonary function[2] by reducing respiratory rate and improving tidal volume, vital capacity, minute ventilation, maximal inspiratory, and expiratory pressure.[3] Similarly, practice of yoga has shown to improve the pulmonary function of patients with hypothyroidism who are known to be obese. Thus, yoga practices might be useful in improving lung functions in obese individuals that, in turn, might help to reduce the development of OSA.[4]

OSA is associated with diabetes, hypertension, and menopause,[1] whereas practice of yoga has shown to be effective in reducing blood glucose level,[5] blood pressure,[6] and menopausal symptoms[7] in diabetes,[5] hypertension,[6] and postmenopausal women,[7] respectively. Patients with OSA have difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep, and suffers from frequent arousals, nonrestorative sleep, fatigue or tiredness, morning headache, and poor quality of life,[1] whereas practice of yoga has shown to be effective in reducing the time taken to fall asleep, increasing the total number of hours slept,[8],[9] feeling of being rested in the morning,[9] improving overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, fatigue, general well-being,[8] and quality of life.[9]

Since obesity and cigarette smoking are also considered as major risk factors for OSA, weight reduction (around 10 kg reduces five events/hour of apnea–hypopnea index) and avoidance of cigarettes were reported to be beneficial in the management of OSA.[1] Practice of yoga is effective in reducing body weight and body fat percentage that helps in controlling obesity,[10] especially central obesity.[11] Similarly, practice of yoga is also effective in decreasing craving to smoke[12] and thus considered as an effective therapy for smoking cessation.[13] These scientific evidences suggest that regular practice of yoga could play a vital role in improving health-related status of patients with OSA. However, studies are required to warrant the effect of yoga in patients with OSA.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Jordan AS, McSharry DG, Malhotra A. Adult obstructive sleep apnoea. Lancet 2014;383:736-47.  Back to cited text no. 1
Santaella DF, Devesa CR, Rojo MR, Amato MB, Drager LF, Casali KR, et al. Yoga respiratory training improves respiratory function and cardiac sympathovagal balance in elderly subjects: A randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open 2011;1:e000085.  Back to cited text no. 2
Bezerra LA, de Melo HF, Garay AP, Reis VM, Aidar FJ, Bodas AR, et al. Do 12-week yoga program influence respiratory function of elderly women? J Hum Kinet 2014;43:177-84.  Back to cited text no. 3
Swami G, Singh S, Singh KP, Gupta M. Effect of yoga on pulmonary function tests of hypothyroid patients. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2010;54:51-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Venugopal V, Rathi A, Raghuram N. Effect of short-term yoga-based lifestyle intervention on plasma glucose levels in individuals with diabetes and pre-diabetes in the community. Diabetes Metab Syndr 2017;11 Suppl 2:S597-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Mizuno J, Monteiro HL. An assessment of a sequence of yoga exercises to patients with arterial hypertension. J Bodyw Mov Ther 2013;17:35-41.  Back to cited text no. 6
Jorge MP, Santaella DF, Pontes IM, Shiramizu VK, Nascimento EB, Cabral A, et al. Hatha Yoga practice decreases menopause symptoms and improves quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med 2016;26:128-35.  Back to cited text no. 7
Halpern J, Cohen M, Kennedy G, Reece J, Cahan C, Baharav A. Yoga for improving sleep quality and quality of life for older adults. Altern Ther Health Med 2014;20:37-46.  Back to cited text no. 8
Manjunath NK, Telles S. Influence of Yoga and Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population. Indian J Med Res 2005;121:683-90.  Back to cited text no. 9
Rshikesan PB, Subramanya P, Nidhi R. Yoga practice for reducing the male obesity and weight related psychological difficulties-a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Diagn Res 2016;10:OC22-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
Siu PM, Yu AP, Benzie IF, Woo J. Effects of 1-year yoga on cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged and older adults with metabolic syndrome: A randomized trial. Diabetol Metab Syndr 2015;7:40.  Back to cited text no. 11
Elibero A, Janse Van Rensburg K, Drobes DJ. Acute effects of aerobic exercise and Hatha yoga on craving to smoke. Nicotine Tob Res 2011;13:1140-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
Bock BC, Fava JL, Gaskins R, Morrow KM, Williams DM, Jennings E, et al. Yoga as a complementary treatment for smoking cessation in women. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2012;21:240-8.  Back to cited text no. 13


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