Today, more children than ever are being treated with complementary and alternative therapies. Recent studies indicate that about 30 percent of healthy children and up to 50 percent of children with chronic disease are using some kind of alternative therapy.
Yoga is a healing system of theory and practice, its a combination of breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation, practiced for over 5,000 years. A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine focused on who used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), what was used, and why it was used in the United States by adults age 18 years and over during 2002. According to this survey, Yoga was the 5th most commonly used CAM therapy (2.8%) in the United States during 2002. Yoga is considered a mind-body intervention that is used to reduce the health effects of generalized stress. Yoga is believed to calm the nervous system and balance the body, mind, and spirit. It is thought by its practitioners to prevent specific diseases and maladies by keeping the energy meridians open and life energy (Prana) flowing. Yoga is usually performed in classes, sessions are conducted at least once a week and for approximately 45 minutes. Yoga has been used to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve coordination, flexibility, concentration, sleep, and digestion.
The effects of yoga on pregnant women has been studied, with results showing that it can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Stress during pregnancy has been linked to premature birth, low birth weight and increased developmental and behavioral problems in the child as a toddler and adolescent, as well as later mental health problems in the mother. A high level of anxiety during pregnancy is linked with postnatal depression which in turn is associated with increased risk of developing depression later in life.
Pregnant women with histories of major depression are about 40 percent less likely to relapse into depression if they practice mindfulness techniques -- such as meditation, breathing exercises and yoga -- along with cognitive therapy, according to a new study.
Scientists have known for decades that aerobic exercise strengthens the brain and contributes to the growth of new neurons, but few studies have examined how yoga affects the brain. A review of the science finds evidence that yoga enhances many of the same brain structures and functions that benefit from aerobic exercise.
Scientists in Brazil have imaged elderly female yoga practitioners' brains and found they have greater cortical thickness in the left prefrontal cortex, in brain areas associated with cognitive functions like attention and memory. The results suggest that yoga could be a way to protect against cognitive decline in old age.