Yoga and PKD
Are you looking for a physical activity that’s PKD friendly, cost-effective, and can be done in the comfort of your own home? Yoga might be for you! Many of us have heard or read about the wide variety of benefits that come with practicing yoga, but is it a safe and effective activity for someone who has polycystic kidney disease?
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient Hindu discipline that includes physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama) and meditation. Yoga aims to create a connection between the body, mind and spirit, as well as the individual with the universal consciousness. Most modern, western yoga emphasizes the physical (asana) practice, which is a small piece of the traditional yoga pie, but still provides enormous benefits to practitioners.
What are the Physical Benefits of Yoga?
Some of the more well known benefits of yoga include overall increased flexibility, strength, coordination and balance. But perhaps the more important question is, can yoga help mitigate any PKD symptoms?
A regular yoga practice can regulate our automatic nervous system, by reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heat rate and respiratory rate. For PKD patients who suffer from high blood pressure, yoga could be a great addition to your lifestyle.
Studies have also shown that yoga decreases oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Certain postures, supine postures (like sphinx or cobra pose) in particular, can help increase blood flow to the kidneys, and because of this, it is theorised that yoga can help mitigate progression of disease and improve kidney function. While no studies have been conducted on PKD patients yet, a study by Rajendra Kumar Pandey et al. found that CKD patients who practiced yoga 4-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes a day showed improved renal function and a decrease in blood urea after 6 months.
Like many of those who suffer from chronic illness, PKD patients are at high risk for anxiety and depression. It's important to find healthy avenues to handle psychological stress from daily life. Yoga can provide relaxation and meditation techniques for an effective way to relive psychological stress. Like kidneys filtering the toxins from our blood, yoga can help filter the toxins from our minds.
Another unique psychological benefit of yoga is increased body awareness. Increasing your ability to notice changes in your body and listening to how your body feels can be important for someone who manages chronic illness or pain. For example, when you can precisely rate your pain on a scale of 1-10, your doctor is more likely to provide a suitable treatment with increased accuracy to match your needs.
You should always talk to your doctor before introducing a new exercise into your routine. Yoga is not for everyone and depending on your physical abilities or progression of PKD symptoms, bending and twisting may put pressure on the kidneys and/or liver.
The great thing about yoga is that there is a wide variety of intensities and types of yoga to fit your needs! Make sure to find a class that’s right for you and your abilities, and speak with an instructor if you need assistance in making adjustments to certain poses.
For a great place to start your yoga journey click here!
By Keara Johnson, Foundation Coordinator
National Kidney Foundation. (n.d.). Yoga for Kidneys. https://www.kidney.org/es/node/26541
National Kidney Foundation. (n.d.). Is Yoga Good for Kidney Disease? https://www.kidney.org/es/node/25296
Rajendra Kumar Pandey, Tung Vir Singh Arya, Amit Kumar, and Ashish Yadav. Effects of 6 months yoga program on renal functions and quality of life in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. (2017). International Journal of Yoga. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5225742/
Yogapedia. (n.d.). Yoga. https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/4/yoga