Is yoga helpful in managing caregiver stress?
Answer From Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
Yoga is considered a safe, healthy way to benefit both your mind and body and soothe stress for almost anyone. This ancient practice focuses on three key elements: postures (poses), breathing techniques and meditation. Yoga practice helps improve muscle strength, flexibility, balance and mobility. It also improves mental health and wellness, and boosts quality of life.
Research has found that yoga may be beneficial in particular for caregivers. Studies indicate that caregivers who engage in a regular yoga practice enjoy lower stress levels and better physical well-being. Research shows that yoga may help caregivers:
- Feel more capable in their caregiver roles
- Improve depression symptoms
- Lower anxiety levels
One study found that caregivers who participated in an eight-week yoga group saw physical and emotional benefits from the practice. Seeing those benefits appeared helpful in alleviating any guilt they felt for taking time for themselves. Participants also felt peaceful and relaxed during their practice.
There are many different types and styles of yoga to choose from, and some are more intense and vigorous than others. Certain health conditions might mean that you should avoid or modify a yoga practice, so check with your doctor before starting yoga. With your doctor's approval, look for a class with a qualified instructor who can help you safely enjoy your yoga "you time."
May 22, 2019
Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Fishbein DB, et al. Overview of yoga. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 10, 2018.
- Waelde LC, et al. A pilot study of a yoga and meditation intervention for dementia caregiver stress. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2004:60;677.
- Lavretsky H, et al. A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: Effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2013:28;57.
- Van Puymbroeck M, et al. A phase 1 feasibility study of yoga on the physical health and coping of informal caregivers. 2007:4:519.
- Yoga: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm. Accessed April 11, 2018.