Schizophrenia ranks among the top ten causes of disease-related burden in the age group of 15-44, globally. At any time, 50 million people in the world including about 8 million in India suffer from Schizophrenia, most of which go undetected in the case of developing countries.
Symptoms related to schizophrenia are generally classified into positive (delusions, hallucinations, and formal thought disorder) and negative (amotivation, anhedonia, emotional blunting and poor insight). In the recent years, clinicians have recognized the third domain of reduced cognition.
There is no single cause of schizophrenia, which means that there is no one treatment that is universally effective in the rehabilitation of those diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Studies have shown that yoga has significant benefits for those diagnosed with schizophrenia. The effects of yoga therapy are multifaceted, including reduced psychotic symptoms and depression, improved cognition and improved quality of life. It also sets off neurobiological changes, such as increased oxytocin levels.
Yoga has demonstrated success in improving cognition and reducing anxiety. The second generation drugs used for treatment are known to worsen the condition, cause obesity and dyslipidemia. Yoga can be very effective in managing weight and obesity. Yoga can also help patients who develop endocrinological and menstrual dysfunction caused by prescription drugs.
In a study done by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, it was concluded that the incorporation of a yoga practice into treatment does contribute to a reduction in symptoms experienced by those diagnosed with schizophrenia.
One study revealed an improvement in social cognition in schizophrenic patients who practice yoga regularly, allowing them to recognize emotional facial expressions better than those who did not practice yoga. Schizophrenia is an illness that severely impacts social cognition and hence destroys interpersonal relationships, and yoga, here, is an ideal tool to help individuals suffering from schizophrenia understand how their thoughts are negatively influencing their perception of the world and in helping them rebalance themselves.
Another study revealed that integrating yoga-based aerobic and strength exercises into comprehensive schizophrenia treatment programs reduce psychiatric symptoms of the disorder, help with acute anxiety and psychological distress and improve quality of life.
Yoga has emerged as an attractive and effective add-on intervention for management of schizophrenia.
A few Asanas and Pranayamas that may prove useful:
- Standing Asanas like standing forward-bend, standing backward-bend, triangle-pose and the tree posture.
- The Surya Namaskar and Padmasadhana series
- Relaxation asanas like Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
- The Trikona Asana and the Pawanmukta Asana
- The Bhramari (bumblebee breathing technique) , Ujjai(warrior breath) and Nadi-Shodana Pranayama (alternate nostril breathing).
The author Divya Kanchibhotla is an international meditation trainer and Director, Sri Sri Institute For Advanced Research. You can follow her on Twitter @divya_kanchi