Yoga could be the best way to tackle stress, say two new studies.
One focussed on the effects of a breathing-based practice on those exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorders; the other used mindfulness to beat migraine.
In both studies, the practice helped.
The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison study worked with 21 soldiers who were made to practise Sudarshan Kriya, a form of controlled breathing that is believed to directly affect the autonomous nervous system.
All participants who received the training and practised it registered lower anxiety, reduced respiration rates and other post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
This is the first randomised, controlled study to show regulated breathing can help people with PTSD.
Sudarshan Kriya Yoga has already been shown to increase optimism in college students and reduce stress and anxiety in people suffering from depression.
The other study, done at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, looked at effects of a standardised meditation and yoga intervention called mindfulness-based stress reduction in adults with migraines.
Nineteen adults were made to practise 45 minutes on their own at least five additional days a week. They had 1.4 fewer migraines per month that were less severe and for significantly shorter periods as compared to the control group.
Mindfulness refers to a psychological state of awareness of the present moment which deflects thoughts from straying into the past or future. It has turned from a 2,600-year-old Buddhist concept to mainstream psychotherapy.
It has been shown by research to treat problems like attention deficit, memory loss and depression as well as physiological diseases like blood pressure and weak immune system.
Both mindfulness and Sudarshan Kriya focus on heightened levels of awareness.