The Benefits of Relaxation Techniques

The Benefits of Relaxation Techniques

The Benefits of Relaxation Techniques


The benefits of relaxation techniques are plentiful and there are so many to choose from. People generally find some relaxation techniques more rewarding than others. So try a few and find the one that suits you the best. Remember to focus on one habit a time.  Here are some to think about:

The Benefits of Meditation

The benefits of meditation are too numerous to mention in this article. I have written a three-part series on meditation which you can find here:

Below are few interesting studies:


A study conducted by the Emory University wanted to find out if mindfulness meditation lowers muscle sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure.  Participants were exposed to 14 minutes of mindful meditation (MM) and separately 14 minutes of blood pressure education (BP). The data suggested that there was a significantly greater reduction in blood pressure, heart-rate as well as muscle sympathetic nerve activity, during the mindfulness meditation compared with the blood pressure education session.


A Norwegian study was conducted to determine the usefulness of mindfulness in patients with stress and chronic health problems. 144 patients (88% women), troubled by stress and chronic illness, were trained for 8-weeks in a randomised controlled study. The participants self-rated its importance at 8.5 on a scale from 1 to 10. An increase in quality of life and subjective health from start to finish of the course, while the control group remained unchanged. The changes in quality of life were maintained at 3 and 6 months follow-up, while subjective health continued to improve during that period


A randomised controlled trial conducted by the Center for Functional Diseases, Mental Health Center, Copenhagen studied 109 patients of chronic pain. Two groups were formed. Those that participated in the mindfulness program and those that didn’t.  The study concluded: 

“a mindfulness program contributes positively to pain management and can exert clinically relevant effects on several important dimensions in patients with long-lasting chronic pain”


The University of Southern California conducted a mindfulness study to determine the benefits of yoga and meditation during a 3-month mindfulness retreat. 38 participants were tested for biomarkers such as:

  • brain derived neurotrophic factor (a protein implicated in the stress response),
  • circadian salivary cortisol levels (to measure circadian rhythm variation in adrenal activity)
  • pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines (to measure inflammation) and
  • completed a self-assessment test


The results indicated a positive impact on mental fitness, autonomic homeostasis and inflammatory status as well as self-reported decreases in anxiety and depression as well as increases in mindfulness

The Benefits of Yoga


Let’s see what the research indicates…


The University of Minnesota conducted a study over 6 months to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of Hatha yoga on oxidative stress, motor function, and non-motor symptoms among individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Two randomised controlled groups participated. One group undertook a twice weekly 60-min group based class for 12 weeks and were assessed at baseline, 12-weeks and 6 months post-intervention. Measures included oxidative stress, motor function, physical activity, cognitive function, sleep quality, and quality of life. Data on program acceptability and yoga adherence were collected during the intervention and at 6 months post-intervention. The study concluded:

“yoga is feasible and acceptable and may serve as a complementary method for improving motor function in PD [Parkinsons Disease].”


Another  study also investigated pilates and yoga breathing on patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and concluded:

“short-term training in yoga is well tolerated and induces favourable respiratory changes in patients with COPD.”( chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

The University of Mississippi reviewed a number of studies to determine the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase the quality of life and concluded:


Yoga encourages one to relax, slow the breath and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response.[] The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs


“One of the main goals of yoga is to achieve tranquillity of the mind and create a sense of well-being, feelings of relaxation, improved self-confidence, improved efficiency, increased attentiveness, lowered irritability, and an optimistic outlook on life.[] The practise of yoga generates balanced energy which is vital to the function of the immune system.[] Yoga leads to an inhibition of the posterior or sympathetic area of the hypothalamus. This inhibition optimizes the body’s sympathetic responses to stressful stimuli and restores autonomic regulatory reflex mechanisms associated with stress.”


A number of studies demonstrate the potential beneficial effects of yoga interventions on depression, stress, and anxiety.[,,]


Numerous studies have shown that asana, meditation or a combination of the two reduced pain in people with arthritis, Carpal Tunnel syndrome, back pain and other chronic conditions.[,,,] Yoga also increases proprioception and improves balance


Yoga increases blood flow and levels of haemoglobin and red blood cells which allows for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function.[] Yoga also thins the blood which can decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke, as they are often caused by blood clots

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