The Health Benefits of Yoga More Powerful than Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Did you know…a prominent psychologist says that the health benefits of yoga have such powerful effects that if it could be bottled and sold, it might be the world’s best-selling drug?

P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at prestigious Duke University, recently made this announcement on national television: “If there were a drug that could mimic the health benefits of yoga, it would probably be the world’s best-selling drug.”

“Studies have shown that the health benefits of yoga affects perhaps more than 200 different process in our body and brain,”Doraiswamy said. “It affects virtually every tissue and every system in our body.” In conjunction with other Duke researchers, Doraiswaymy analyzed 124 trails on the impact of yoga on neuropsychiatric disorders. Ultimately, the team selected 16 studies that met their strict criteria.

In a review published in Frontiers In Affective Disorders and Psychosomatic Research, the Duke team presented evidence on the beneficial results of using the health benefits of yoga to treat…

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia (as an accompaniment to drug therapy)
  • ADHD and other attention disorders
  • Insomnia and sleep issues

The findings showed that the relaxation response yoga produces is equivalent to the best available anti-anxiety drugs, according to Doraisway.

Regulating Your Stress Response

A 2008 study done at the University of Utah offers insight into the way that the health benefits of yoga mitigates the body’s reaction to stress.

Researchers from the University of Utah had noted a correlation between poorly regulated stress responses and pain sensitivity, and developed a study to test the connection.

The participants in the study were…

  • 12 experienced yoga practitioners
  • 14 people with fibromyalgia (many experts believe this condition, a key symptom of which is hypersensitivity to pain, is linked to stress)
  • 16 health volunteers

To test the pain tolerance of the members of each of the three groups, researchers applied varying degrees of pressure to their thumbnails. Even at low levels of pressure, individuals with fibromyalgia experienced pain.

Conversely, the yoga practitioners had the highest pain tolerance. Functional MRIs showed the greatest activity in brain areas that register pain for those with fibromyalgia and the least for the yoga benefits of yoga

The results from the University of Utah study quantify the way yoga enhances your ability to regulate stress, which also improves your pain tolerance.

Yoga as “A Global Priority”

Doraiswamy has done extensive research on moods, brain aging, and lifestyle, and is convinced that the health benefits of yoga has enormously promising applications.

Considering that poor compliance, relapse, expense, and deleterious side effects are all growing problems associated with traditional psychiatric medications, investigations of alternative treatments are especially crucial.

And considering the scientifically proven link between stress and nearly every single negative health condition, we know that anything truly capable of reducing long-term stress has enormous health implications.

The same can be said for yoga’s ability to improve sleep problems—which are, like stress, epidemic in modern Americans, and which are proven to harm your health in significant ways.

“The search for improved treatments, including non-drug based, to meet the holistic needs of patients is of paramount importance,” Doraiswamy said, “and we call for more research into the health benefits of yoga as a global priority.”

If you are interested in exploring yoga for anxiety, depression, sleep problems, or simply to improve your general health, there are many DVDs, books, and online resources to guide you.

Another good option is to try a beginner’s class at a local yoga studio or community center, where trained instructors can offer more individual attention and guidance.