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Yoga and Aetna

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MAMASTE By Stefanie Lester Coslow

I’ve always been a connoisseur of magazines and I guess I’ve gone through a sort of evolution with it.  My infatuation started somewhere along the lines of Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, …whatever those magazines were called that I ripped the pictures of John Stamos (way before the Full House Days), Jack Wagner, and the cast of the Outsiders out of.

Then I graduated to Seventeen, Glamour, Cosmo, fashion magazines, gossip mags, Parenting magazines,…..  The magazine that I now run to the mailbox for and tear through cover to cover, dogearring pages of?  Yeah, you guessed it…. Yoga Journal.  Yes, I’m kind of a dork, but also feel a bit more adult that I actually have a career/interest that I geek out over reading about.

The latest issues of Yoga Journal was no disappointment.  There was a fantastic article that I loved about the CEO of Aetna, Mark T. Bertolini, and his love of and belief in yoga as a healer and stress reducer.

After suffering a terrible skiing accident, Mr. Bertolini was in constant pain and partially paralyzed.  After a year of living on narcotics, he tried alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga and found great success.

In 2008 he commissioned his yoga instructor to develop a yoga program for Aetna’s employees to help reduce stress, and he partnered with Duke University Medical Center, as well, to conduct a scientific study of the effects of yoga.  The study was published this year and showed that the yoga course had significant stress reducing benefits.

We’ve all heard and read about the effects that stress can have on health, both physical and mental and many studies prove it.  People with the highest levels of stress often have the highest medical expenses as well.

Some data on from Aetna’s study on stress in the workplace:


  1. Those with the highest stress levels generally spent $2,000 more annually on health care costs vs those with the lowest stress levels
  2. a 33% decrease was shown in stress levels after taking stress reducing yoga classes
  3. only 1 hour per week of yoga resulted in lower stress levels


More and more companies are incorporating wellness programs for their employees.  And, by lowering stress levels it’s been shown we can lower medical costs, so hopefully, somewhere down the line, insurers will cover mind-body therapies.  One can only hope.  Mark Bertolini is a huge believer and so am I.  After all, an ounce of prevention…..


Take one of Stefanie’s classes at CorePower yoga studios throughout Chicago (Stefanie C on the schedule) or at Yoga Loft Chicago She also works with private clients in their homes so think of her for your next party or corporate event. Either write her a note on the blog, or call her directly at 646-642-3391. Catch up on Stefanie’s prior posts at


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