It's no secret practicing yoga can help alleviate stress and depression.
But scientists wanted to know why it helps and what techniques are best.
Researchers compiled 15 of the most in-depth yoga research studies conducted over the past 20 years and analyzed them to find similarities and trends.
They discovered that a technique known as progressive muscle relaxation training (PMRT) is the most effective for treating anxiety and depression in those 60 years of age and older.
PMRT is a yoga technique in which specific muscle groups are engaged and relaxed one at a time, rather than all at once.
According to the authors,
[PMRT] could help counterbalance the negative effects of aging, improve physical functioning, postpone disability, decrease morbidity and mortality, stimulate the mind and increase hope, reducing the risk of anxiety or depression.
It is believed that the PMRT has a tranquilizing effect, triggers a sense of peacefulness, helps participants retreat mentally from their problems, and curtails negative thoughts, reducing depressive symptoms.
The researchers found PMRT alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression better than traditional yoga and even stress management training, and the feel-good effects can last up to six months after a single session.
You can find a step-by-step PMRT guide for beginners over at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NAACM). As with traditional yoga, you'll want to wear loose, comfortable clothes and practice in a calm, quiet environment (soothing music offers an added stress-relieving bonus).
So go ahead -- get stretchin'!