Here is a 90-minute Iyengar yoga series proven to relieve stress when you do it once per week, according to research from Charite University Medical Centre published in a 2012 issue of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Taking an Iyengar Yoga class once per week is an effective dose to reduce stress and you probably won’t see additional improvement by going twice per week. Stress affects up to 80 percent of adults and has negative impacts your health, including speeding up the aging process and contributing “to cardiovascular disease, degenerative neurological disease, chronic pain syndromes, delayed wound healing, depression, and cancer.” Fortunately, yoga presents a self-care option that helps some people reduce stress without, or in conjunction with, medication.
Seventy-two stressed-out women participated in this Iyengar Yoga study. Their ages ranged between 19 and 52 years old, they scored higher than 18 on the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale and were experiencing at least three of the following eight symptoms: “ insomnia, disturbed appetite, back or neck pain, tension-type headache, decreasing daytime alertness, digestive problems and frequent cold hands/feet.”
To discover the efficacy of Iyengar Yoga to reduce stress, the researchers randomly divided the women into three groups, two yoga groups and one control group. The yoga groups attending a series of 90-minute yoga classes (scroll down to see this series) for three months. Group one, known as the moderate yoga group, attended class once per week. Group two, known as the intensified yoga group, attended class twice per week. Group three, the control group, did not attend yoga classes.
Does Iyengar Yoga Relieve Stress?
The researchers of the Iyengar Yoga stress relief study found the moderate yoga group and the intensified yoga group significantly reduced their perceived stress scores. The twice-weekly yoga group did score lower on this test, but the difference was not statistically significant. When it came to other psychological outcome measures, the yoga groups also showed significant positive improvements in depression, well-being, vigor as well as reductions in fatigue and anger. The yoga groups also showed significant self-perceived improvement physical outcomes, including back pain and neck pain.
The researchers noted the women in the once-weekly yoga group had better attendance rates than the twice-weekly yoga group and suggested busy schedules and unforeseen events prevent people from attending two classes per week, every week. Although there was not a significant difference between the outcomes of going to Iyengar Yoga class once or twice per week in this study,the researchers call for further research to determine the results of going to Iyengar Yoga class three or more times per week.
90-Minute Iyengar Yoga Sequence for Stress Relief
Here is the 90-minute Iyengar Yoga sequence for stress relief as the researchers prescribed in the study from Charite University Medical Centre published in a 2012 issue of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. A certified Iyengar Yoga instructor with over 15 years of training taught the class in a fully equipped studio.
1) Downward Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
*Modification: support your palms against the wall
2) Mountain Pose – Tadasana
3) Raised Hands Pose – Urdhva Hastasana
– Arms extending up
4) Urdhva Baddha Anguliasana in Tadasana
– Interlock the fingers with arms extending up
5) Standing Cow Face Pose – Gomukhasana in Tadasana
*Modification: hands holding each other from the back, eventually with belt
6) Extended Hands and Feet Pose – Utthita Hasta Padasana
– Spreading the legs with the feet parallel while standing
7) Side Hands and Feet Pose – Parsva Hasta Padasana
– Spreading the legs with front foot turning out pose while standing
8) Modified Parsva Hasta Padasana
*Modification: back foot against wall, palms at the hips, back hand holding upper rope
9) Extended Triangle Pose – Utthita Trikonasana
10) Extended Side Angle Pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana
11) Intense Side Stretch Pose – Parsvottanasana Upright
*Modification: back heel on a block with hands holding the lower rope
12) Intense Side Stretch Pose – Parsvottanasana
*Modification: back heel on blocks, hands holding the lower rope
13) Intense Side Stretch Pose – Parsvottanasana
*Modification: back heel and hands on blocks
14) Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend – Prasarita Padottanasana Concave
*Modification: back heel and hands on blocks
15) Intense Forward Bend – Uttanasana
16) Half Forward Bend – Ardha Uttanasana
*Modification: hands against the wall
17) Arm Extending Back Pose – Viparita Ardha Hastasana
*Modification: arm against the wall
18) Shoulder Stand – Sarvangasana
*Modification: shoulders on a bolster and your buttocks on a chair
19) Downward-Facing Cross-Legged Pose – Adho Mukha Svastikasana
*Modification: support your head on a bolster or chair
20) Corpse Pose – Shavasana