There's nothing quite like a massage therapy session, but yoga
may just be the next best thing
WHILE ONE MIGHT MAKE YOU SAY "AAAAH" and the
other makes you say "ooom," if you've ever done yoga, you've
probably noticed you get the same feel-good vibe after both that
makes you say, "I feel amazing."
You're not imagining things. Yoga offers many of the same
benefits as massage therapy, so it can be considered a form of
"The underlying mechanisms are very similar, because both yoga
and massage therapy stimulate pressure receptors," says Tiffany
Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the
University of Miami School of Medicine.
When you practice yoga, Dr. Field explains, you're rubbing your
limbs against each other and against the ground. The body's
response to going through a series of yoga poses is very similar to
what takes place during a massage.
The Touch Research Institute has measured what happens when the
pressure receptors are stimulated during both yoga and massage
therapy. The findings show there's an increase in activity from the
vagus nerve, which slows down heart rate and blood pressure,
decreases the stress hormone cortisol and triggers an increase in
serotonin, the body's natural antidepressant.
A Natural Boost
Studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute have also
revealed that both yoga and massage therapy
increase the brain's beta waves, which are associated with
"You need a daily dose of touch and a daily dose of exercise,"
says Dr. Field, "and yoga can do both."
-By Amy Lynn Smith