Here is a 90-minute Iyengar yoga sequence to reduce stress from a study by researchers at Charite University Medical Centre (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine).

An Iyengar Yoga Sequence to Reduce Stress

An Iyengar Yoga Sequence to Reduce Stress

Taking an Iyengar Yoga class once per week is an effective dose to reduce stress—and this study shows you probably won’t see additional improvement by going twice per week.

Stress affects up to 80 percent of adults and has negative impacts your health, including speeding up the aging process, and contributes to

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Degenerative neurological disease
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Depression
  • Cancer

Fortunately, yoga presents a self-care option that helps some people reduce stress without, or in conjunction with, medication.

Common Characteristics of Stressed-Out Women

Seventy-two stressed-out women participated in this Iyengar Yoga study. They ranged in age between 19 and 52 years old and scored higher than 18 on the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale.

The women were also experiencing at least three of the following eight symptoms:

  1. Insomnia
  2. Disturbed appetite
  3. Back pain
  4. Neck pain
  5. Tension-type headache
  6. Decreasing daytime alertness
  7. Digestive problems
  8. Frequent cold hands/feet

Is Moderate Yoga Better than Intensified Yoga?

To discover the efficacy of Iyengar Yoga to reduce stress, the researchers randomly divided the women into three groups, two yoga groups, and one control group. The two yoga groups attended a series of 90-minute Iyengar yoga classes (scroll down to see this series) for three months.

  • Group one, known as the moderate yoga group, attended class once per week.
  • Group two, known as the intensified yoga group,  attended class twice per week.
  • Group three, the control group, did not attend yoga classes.

Can Iyengar Yoga Reduce Stress?

The researchers of the Iyengar Yoga stress relief study found:

  • The moderate yoga group significantly reduced their perceived stress scores.
  • The intensified yoga group significantly reduced their perceived stress scores.
  • The control did not significantly reduce their perceived stress scores.

*The intensified yoga group scored lower on the stress test, but the difference was not statistically significant.

When it came to other psychological outcome measures, the yoga groups also showed significant positive improvements in

  • depression
  • well-being
  • vigor
  • fatigue
  • anger

The yoga groups also showed significant self-perceived improvement physical outcomes, including back and neck pain.

The researchers noted the women in the once-weekly yoga group had better attendance rates than the twice-weekly yoga group and suggested busy schedules and unforeseen events prevent people from attending two classes per week, every week. Although there was not a significant difference between the outcomes of going to Iyengar Yoga class once or twice per week in this study, the researchers call for further research to determine the results of going to Iyengar Yoga class three or more times per week.

90-Minute Iyengar Yoga Sequence to Reduce Stress

Here is the 90-minute Iyengar Yoga sequence to reduce stress as prescribed in the study from Charite University Medical Centre published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. A certified Iyengar Yoga instructor with over 15 years of training taught the class in a fully equipped studio.

1)    Downward Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

*Modification: support your palms against the wall

2)    Mountain Pose – Tadasana

3)    Raised Hands Pose – Urdhva Hastasana

–       Arms extending up

4)    Urdhva Baddha Anguliasana in Tadasana

–       Interlock the fingers with arms extending up

5)    Standing Cow Face Pose – Gomukhasana in Tadasana

*Modification: hands holding each other from the back, eventually with belt

6)    Extended Hands and Feet Pose – Utthita Hasta Padasana

–       Spreading the legs with the feet parallel while standing

7)    Side Hands and Feet Pose – Parsva Hasta Padasana

–       Spreading the legs with front foot turning out pose while standing

8)    Modified Parsva Hasta Padasana

*Modification: back foot against wall, palms at the hips, back hand holding upper rope

9)    Extended Triangle Pose – Utthita Trikonasana

10) Extended Side Angle Pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana

11) Intense Side Stretch Pose – Parsvottanasana Upright

*Modification: back heel on a block with hands holding the lower rope

12) Intense Side Stretch Pose – Parsvottanasana

*Modification: back heel on blocks, hands holding the lower rope

13) Intense Side Stretch Pose – Parsvottanasana

*Modification: back heel and hands on blocks

14) Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend – Prasarita Padottanasana Concave

*Modification: back heel and hands on blocks

15) Intense Forward Bend – Uttanasana

16) Half Forward Bend – Ardha Uttanasana

*Modification: hands against the wall

17)  Arm Extending Back Pose – Viparita Ardha Hastasana

*Modification: arm against the wall

18)  Shoulder Stand – Sarvangasana

*Modification: shoulders on a bolster and your buttocks on a chair

19) Downward-Facing Cross-Legged Pose – Adho Mukha Svastikasana

*Modification: support your head on a bolster or chair

20) Corpse Pose – Shavasana

Click here to learn more

Michalsen, A., Jeitler, M., Brunnhuber, S., Ludtke, R., Bussing, A., Musial, F., et al. (2012). Iyengar Yoga for Distressed Women: A 3-Armed Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.