The claim: Just two 90-minute yoga sessions a week for 3 months is enough to lower your inflammation levels by 20%. The same amount of yoga also reduces fatigue by 57%. And these benefits persist for months -- even if you stop going to yoga, according to a new Journal of Clinical Oncology study.
The research: A study team from Ohio State University measured markers of inflammation among 200 breast cancer survivors -- half of whom practiced hatha yoga on a twice-weekly basis. The researchers also collected psychological surveys designed to gauge the participants' energy and depression levels. Compared to the no-yoga group, the downward doggers enjoyed the lasting inflammation- and fatigue-lowering benefits detailed above. (Sculpt a sexy yoga body -- it only takes 15 minutes a day! -- with the Big Book of Yoga.)
What it means: The meditative component of yoga is a proven stress fighter, says lead study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD. And thanks to the uptick in physical activity, the yoga practicers also slept better at night. Both of those factors could explain the improved inflammation and energy levels, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser explains. Also, because yoga helps you learn to manage stress through concentration and breathing, its positive effects last even if you stop practicing, she adds.
The bottom line: Anyone who takes up yoga should experience lower inflammation and fatigue levels, as well as better sleep, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser says. And her study showed the more often you practice yoga, the better the results. (Prevent bad posture and pain with these beginner yoga moves.)
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Iyengar started his yoga school in 1973 in the western city of Pune, developing a unique form of the practice that he said anyone could follow.