Yoga helps with stress relief, anxiety


Kent State alumni Allison Yanci practices yoga downtown at One Love Yoga Boutique on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. “There’s a lot more benefits than just relaxing and stretching,” said Allision. “I study the spiritual side of it, but I love a sweaty power class too.”

Jade Critchfield

Yoga is known for its physical benefits, such as flexibility and balance, but it is also becoming known for relieving stress, anxiety and depression.

“(Yoga) helps with stress relief, it can help people think clearer and make better decisions, it can help with anxiety, and it’s been shown to help with depression,” said Anne Laing, a studio manager of One Love Yoga in Kent.

Because yoga focuses on breathing, it helps relax its participants and calm anxiety and depression, Laing said. 

“Doing yoga teaches you to regulate your breath, and through breath regulation you’re able to calm the nervous system and that can help with anxiety and depression,” Laing said.

Yoga moves participants from the sympathetic nervous system, a fight-or-flight stage, into the parasympathetic nervous system, a rest-and-digest stage, according to the Yoga Journal. The parasympathetic nervous system helps with digestion issues, calm the body, breathe deeper, slow the heart rate and get into a relaxed state.

“I can’t speak to mental health disorders or illnesses and how (yoga) would benefit, but I can only imagine that it helps, particularly with people who are anxious, who are overwhelmed and who feel bombarded by all the things they have to do,” said Pamela Farer-Singleton, the chief psychologist at University Health Services. 

Practicing yoga also provides a time of meditation, which is also beneficial for mental health, said John Schull, a senior psychologist at University Health Services.

“Mindfulness meditation can help individuals learn how to be more self-aware, how to slow down and sort of learn how to focus a little more inwardly in terms of what they’re experiencing,” Schull said.

Practicing mindfulness meditation with yoga can help identify emotions, thought processes that may or may not be healthy and overall provide a sense of self-awareness, Schull said.

Yoga can also recommended for people with depression and anxiety for simply providing some light physical activity, according to

“Even doing a gentle yoga class, the physical benefits are increased range of motion, deeper breath and greater flexibility,” Laing said.

Yoga can also lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and relieve back pain, depending on the type of class, Laing said.

Jade Critchfield covers health and fitness. Contact her at [email protected].