This Is Exactly How Many Weeks of Yoga You Need for Stress Relief

Photo: Unsplash/Dane Wetton
The first few times you take a yoga class will be challenging. But stick with it. You'll experience many of the benefits only once you've been flowing on the regular. A new meta-analysis published in the journal Brain Plasticity suggests a definitive timeline if you're hoping to use yoga for stress relief.

After combing 11 past studies that explored the intersection of yoga and brain health, researchers narrowed it down to five studies that looked specifically at yoga newbies who completed at least one session per week over 10 to 24 weeks. They identified a major mental shift after people practiced yoga for eight weeks.

"In one of my previous studies, we were looking at how yoga changes the cortisol stress response," says Neha Gothe, PhD, who led the research with Wayne State University. "We found that those who had done yoga for eight weeks had an attenuated cortisol response to stress that was associated with better performance on tests of decision-making, task-switching and attention." Coristol, the stress hormone, can wreak havoc on everything from your immunity to your digestion to your fertility.

While the use of yoga for stress relief is notable, it's certainly not the only brain benefit. "The practice of yoga helps improve emotional regulation to reduce stress, anxiety and depression," says Dr. Gothe. "And that seems to improve brain functioning." Eight weeks? Let's go.

Your eight weeks starts today:

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