The researchers say their findings show stress has an immediate impact on people’s blood and bodies and yoga is a simple way to reduce its impact both short and long term. But because yoga has so many components – movements, breathing, mental elements – researchers say it’s hard to know which individual parts are responsible for the stress reducing effects.

But Dorothy Guy, a 56-year-old-yoga instructor at the Barbara Greenspun Women’s Care Center in Las Vegas, NV, thinks she has an idea. She has arthritis in her hips and thinks, based on personal experience, that the benefits of yoga come from all the components.

“All of these things put together is what I think is the healing process of yoga and benefits patients,” she says. “The breathing techniques help them to relax. They’re taught relaxation techniques and meditation techniques and all these things together are where the stress relieving aspects come into play.”

Guy says before starting yoga, patients need to interview instructors to make sure they understand a person’s individual challenges and needs and once you begin, she says it’s important to practice at your own pace. But no matter your age or athletic ability, yoga is an option, says Guy.

“Yoga is something anyone can do. I teach elderly people sitting in chairs,” Guy says.

Next the Ohio State researchers are looking for 200 women to volunteer for a clinical trail to see if yoga can reduce inflammation linked to debilitating fatigue among breast cancer survivors.