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#EpilepsyAwareness: Benefits of yoga therapy in managing epilepsy

  Yoga practice can reduce seizure frequency (Shutterstock)

Yoga is an age-old traditional psycho–philosophical–cultural method of leading one’s life that alleviates stress, induces relaxation and provides multiple health benefits to the person following its system. Yoga seeks to control the mind through the union of an individual’s dormant energy with the universal energy.

Amidst an increased interest in traditional complementary and alternate systems of medicine, yoga is considered helpful in the treatment of various systemic and neurological disorders including epilepsy.

Is yoga safe for people with epilepsy?

Historically, there has been concern about the safety of yoga for people with epilepsy. However, a recent study designed to access the safety of yoga in adults with poorly controlled epilepsy found that there were no adverse effects during six weeks of yoga classes and home practice which is great news!

The same study also found that yoga practice reduced seizure frequency, increased feelings of energy and reduced the incidence of seizure worry and perceived stress. 

How does it work?

Evidence from recent study shows that yoga really does work, here’s how:

Stress can be a trigger for seizures; yoga is a proven way of helping to manage stress. Controlling your stress levels with regular yoga practice will reduce seizure frequency. Yoga can also positively influence the reduced quality of life, anxiety and depression that often goes hand in hand with epilepsy. This makes the condition more manageable and reduces its impact on daily life. Epileptic seizure frequency has been shown to reduce by about 30% with stimulation of the Vagus nerve and one of the most powerful effects of yoga is stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system through the Vagus nerve.

All this adds up to fewer seizures, better quality of life and less anxiety and depression for epileptic yogis which has to be good.

- The writer is the National Epilepsy Coordination Committee (NECC) National Secretary (Kenya), and an Epilepsy Awareness ambassador

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