Chronic stress causes damage on a cellular level to the body. Such prolonged stress leads to cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes and frailty. Feelings of being overwhelmed by our circumstances contributes to physical effects such as stress-induced chronic inflammation - the result of an immune system in a constant state of high alert.
Research on Hatha Yoga and Stress in Women
Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD has researched how chronic stress harms the body. Her investigations have led her to look into the mechanisms underlying Hatha Yoga potential stress-reduction benefits. She has compared inflammatory and endocrine responses of novice and expert female Yoga practitioners before, during, and after a Hatha Yoga class. She found that a Hatha Yoga class boosted students' positive emotions, but there was no overall difference in inflammatory or endocrine responses as a result of the Yoga class.
Regular Practice of Yoga
But Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser found that Yoga experts had 40% less serum interleukin(IL)-6 levels than novices following a stressful experience. She concludes,in the Journal "Psychosomatic Medicine" March 2010
"The ability to minimize inflammatory responses to stressful encounters influences the burden that stressors place on an individual. If Yoga dampens or limits stress-related changes, then regular practice could have substantial health benefits."