Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 9, 1-6.

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Participants: 41 men and 23 women (ages 18-30 years) participating in a three months yoga certificate course at the Vemana Yoga Research Institute in Hyderabad, India. All volunteers were healthy, with no previous yoga experience.

Results: Women and men showed different metabolic responses to the pranayama and asana practices. However, in general, the responses of both women and men were positive (improvements/reductions in risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases). Men showed reduced levels of serum triglycerides and VLDL-cholesterol at the end of the first 30 days (pranayama practice only), and increased levels of HDL-cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and free fatty acids at the end of both the first 30 days (pranayama practice only) and at the end of the 3-month session. There was no change in LDL-cholesterol. Women showed reduced levels of serum free fatty acids at the end of both the first 30 days (pranayama only) and the 3-month session, and also showed reduced levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol and VLDL- cholesterol by the end of the 3-month session. There were no changes in HDL-cholesterol.

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Stress reduction. With its quiet, precise movements, yoga draws your focus away from your busy, chaotic day and toward calm as you move your body through poses that require balance and concentration.

Increased fitness. As you learn and refine new poses, you may enjoy improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you're less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.

Management of chronic health conditions. Yoga might help with a variety of health conditions, such as cancer, depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia, by helping with sleep problems, fatigue and mood. Yoga also can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

Weight loss. If you're overweight or have binge-eating disorder, yoga may help you make the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to gain control of your eating and drop those extra pounds.

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