Can yoga combat chronic kidney disease?

The two major causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) are diabetes and hypertension.  Speaking on the latter, the connection between physical yoga and reductions in blood pressure are well-established.  However, evidence to suggest that these practices change the course of active CKD has been lacking.  Researchers led by R. K. Pandey carried out a randomized controlled trial to see if yoga could benefit this patient population.  Their work was subsequently published in the first quarterly installment of the International Journal of Yoga for 2017.  Let me provide you with a brief summary of their methods and results.

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Fifty-four end stage CKD patients were assigned to either the test (N = 28) or control (N = 26) group.  The test group was offered ‘strict’ instruction for 5 days per week on postures (15-20 min), breathing (10-15 min), and guided relaxation (20 min) plus conventional therapy.  The control group was offered conventional therapy.  After 6 months, serum chemistry, blood pressure and quality of life metrics were compared for statistical variations.

Among those who received yoga therapy, the investigators saw significant improvements in these three criteria.  Critical to the hypothesis at hand, the average participant experienced a 15-point (mg/dL) decrease in blood urea nitrogen as well as a 1.0-point decrease in serum creatinine.  Although CKD has a reputation for being incurable, it appears that a structured yoga routine can improve an array of kidney specific markers.  I would be curious to see whether these benefits persist over the course of a full year or more.

Study Citation:

Pandey RK, Arya TV, Kumar A, Yadav A. Effects of 6 months yoga program on renal functions and quality of life in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. Int J Yoga, 2017 Jan-Apr; 10(1):3-8.


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