Category Archives: Yoga Research

More Research on the Benefits of Viniyoga–Viniyoga Reduces Workplace Stress!

I know from personal experience that Viniyoga is an amazing tool for reducing workplace stress—that’s what hooked me on it almost fifteen years ago, when I still worked at Microsoft.  But now, research proves it!

Aetna, inc. recently studied methods of stress reduction in the workplace. The results were published in the online version of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. The study evaluated the effectiveness of Mindfulness Meditation (a specific type of meditation) and Viniyoga on both perceived levels of stress and biological markers of stress. The Viniyoga intervention used in the study was designed by my teacher, Gary Kraftsow. The study participants included 239 Aetna employees located in California and Connecticut who were split into three groups:  the Mindfulness Meditation group, the Viniyoga group, and a control.

The results were encouraging.  Both the Mindfulness Meditation and the Viniyoga interventions saw over a 30% reduction in perceived stress levels. Participants also showed significant improvements in several heart rate measurements, suggesting that their bodies were better able to manage stress.  Even better, both Viniyoga and Mindfulness Meditation worked in about half the time as other commonly used mind-body interventions.

The Viniyoga intervention included a twelve-week yoga program that used physical yoga postures, breathing techniques, and guided relaxation. Participants met in class once a week and received practice handouts to use at home and in the office. Which just goes to prove what I’ve said all along—a well-conceived home practice gets results!

For more details on the study, check out the article on Aetna’s web site.

Be well, and come see me in class soon to reduce your stress!



Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out our Series on Yoga to Ease Stress!

Research Shows It! Viniyoga Can Help Heal Your Back!

Finally, a yoga-related news article I’m happy to pass on to you! It seems like yoga has had more than its share of bad press lately—from the New York Times article proclaiming that yoga can “wreck your body” to many recent articles that have been forwarded to me about a famous (non-viniyoga) yoga guru who has recently, shall we say, fallen from grace. 

So I was more than a little pleased when a student approached me in my Yoga for Healthy Backs class recently to say that two of her friends recently forwarded her a positive article about yoga from The Huffington Post.  This article discusses recent research showing what I’ve known for years:  that yoga, specifically viniyoga, can help overcome chronic low back pain.

The research described is the most recent in a pair of studies co-sponsored by the National Institute of Health and Group Health Cooperative.  Both studies used viniyoga—the same style taught at Whole Life Yoga, and the yoga protocols were designed by my teacher, Gary Kraftsow.  One goal of the most recent study was to see if earlier benefits of viniyoga could be replicated with a larger test group.

According to Karen Sherman, one of the study authors, they specifically chose viniyoga, because “we wanted to pick something to test that was likely to be safe and easy for beginners to practice both in classes and at home.”

The results?  Students who participated in weekly 45 – 50 minute viniyoga classes, including deep breathing and guided relaxation, experienced clinically significant improvements in low back pain and dysfunction.  And those improvements were still apparent at least 14 weeks after the end of the study.  Similar benefits were found in students who practiced weekly 52 minute stretching classes with 20 minutes of home stretching on non-class days.  Although the article does not state this, I do believe the yoga students were also given home practices. 

Researchers attribute the improvements to the physical benefits of yoga—specifically, stretching and strengthening, versus any mental benefits. So I guess all the stress reduction and emotional balance we yogis experience is just an awesome side benefit!  😉  (By the way, a recent study on viniyoga for stress reduction also showed great results, but that’s a blog article for a different day).

And on a personal note—the Group Health study specifically looked at chronic low back dysfunction that interfered with participant’s day-to-day activities.  But I can tell you from personal experience, yoga also helps with upper back and neck pain, along with a variety of other physical, physiological, and emotional issues.

If you, or someone you know, suffers from chronic low back pain, consider giving viniyoga a try! If you’re in the Seattle area, please check out Whole Life Yoga’s Yoga for Healthy Backs series.


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!