Back to Back Issues Page
MEY newsletter, Issue #005
February 23, 2014

Hi, Namaste,my dear MEY friends,

This month I want to inform you about the stress reduction benefits that yoga and MEY offer. We all know already that when we do a MEY session we leave in a different state than when we entered the room. That is obvious to us. We feel stronger, more at peace and experience inner joy. Now how do we explain that scientically? Here is some scientific evidence.

In a recent study conducted by Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and the Yoga Research Society, 16 healthy new yogis participated in a 50-minute yoga class every day for seven days. On the day prior to their first class, they were instructed to sit quietly—reading and writing—for 50 minutes.

The subjects' cortisol levels didn't change appreciably during the sitting period; they showed just the normal decrease that usually takes place in the late morning. But when the researchers measured the cortisol levels before and after the yoga class—which included postures such as Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Halasana (Plow Pose)—they discovered a significant decrease after the class.

In the scientific world, results are considered noteworthy only if they can be repeated. This particular study attained a "p value" (a measurement of the probability of attaining the very same outcome in the future) of .001, which means that if the study were performed 100 times, the probability of getting the same result would be 99.9 percent.

The study's results don't surprise George Brainard, M.D., a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson Medical College. In 1995, he conducted a similar study, which also showed a significant drop in cortisol levels of subjects following asana practice.

"When I did the first study, I was very surprised that a single set of yoga poses could make a significant change in cortisol," Brainard says. "Now that we have repeated it, we have seen enough promise to consider studying it in challenging situations like chronically ill patients who have abnormally high levels of cortisol, such as those who suffer from depression, type 2 diabetes, Cushing's disease, and high blood pressure."

The findings suggest that practicing yoga—even for the very first time—can normalize cortisol levels that are either too high or too low, says Vijayendra Pratap, Ph.D., president of the Yoga Research Society in Philadelphia. "My hypothesis," he adds, "is that yoga brings the body to balance."

Exactly how it does this is still not clear. But Jennifer Johnston, yoga director and research clinician at the Mind Body Medical Institute in Boston has a theory. "The deep breathing we do in yoga elicits something called 'the relaxation response,' which invokes the restorative functions of the body," Johnston says. "Yogic practices also help to reduce muscle tension and deactivate the stress response."

So in addition to renewing your mind and spirit, yoga has now been proven to provide real benefits for your body. No longer do the everyday stressors of deadlines, a hectic schedule, and other pressures have to wear you down.

I knew yoga and Mindful Energizing Yoga are of great benefit to all of us; to see it underlined by science makes it even more tangible!

More in my next newsletter, If you have questions contact me through Facebook (Mindful Energizing Yoga page), or via the contact page on the site.

ciao Claudine " Kripa"

Back to Back Issues Page