WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Elliott Watlington is used to the surprised looks he gets when he tells people he's a yoga teacher. "I was on my way to coaching college sports, but now I can't imagine myself doing anything else."
Watlington is a LuLu Lemon Ambassador and teaches yoga to the athletic teams at Wake Forest University, but it's what he's seeing in his classes at Paz Studio in Winston Salem that has really made his career choice feel worthwhile.
"I can see the transformation. All these yoga poses are just techniques for the body to calm the mind. When my students struggle with anxiety or depression and then focus that energy on their yoga mat instead, that's just a really beautiful thing. They are calmer and more content," said Watlington.
What he's seeing in his class is also what a leading neuroscientist at Duke University Medical Center is seeing in his research.
Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy reviewed hundreds of studies on the impact of yoga on mental health and says it's clear yoga helps relieve mild depression, sleep problems, ADHD, even schizophrenia to some degree, along with medication. "Yoga influences key elements of the brain in similar ways to antidepressants and psychotherapy... If the promise of yoga on the mind-body was found in a drug, it would be the best selling medication worldwide."
Elliott says you don't have to come to an hour long class to reap the benefits of yoga and that about 10 minutes a day can help you seriously fight stress. "Lie down on your back, use a block or a blanket rolled up, under your back. This opens up your heart and helps you breathe. As you breathe, you become calmer."
"It's really like a proud parent thing where I see someone come to class and you can tell they've developed mentally and physically. It's very rewarding. It's why I get out of bed in the morning, to tell you the truth."