Photo: Unsplash / Lena Bell

LIVING SLOWER | How yoga can halt the ageing effects of stress.

With studies linking stress with up to 80 per cent of visits to the doctor, it’s proving an inescapable part of modern life. And what’s worrying about this inevitability is the harmful effects of stress on the body. Over time, stress leads to an accelerated biological ageing process in the body. But not only does stress make us look older, it can also lead to chronic inflammation, cellular and genetic damage. It has also been associated with heart disease, depression, diabetes and a weakened immune system. Far more worrying than crows’ feet.

Yoga, it appears, is the answer. A study in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity journal has found that just 12 weeks of regular yoga (including yoga breathing as well as the physical postures) is enough to slow down cellular ageing, while it also has a protective effect on the brain. A study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience assessed people coming off a three-month yoga retreat, concluding that inflammation had been reduced along with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Time to roll out that yoga mat.