Research News from Yoga For The Mind
We have mentioned some of these studies in The De-Stress Diet, but here is an article enhancing the Calm for Life chapter in the book from the Yoga For The Mind website. The following research findings are from their newsletter, which you can sign up for at www.yogaforthemind.info where you will also find teachers, workshops and online support for stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues:
Quality of life
A recent study, Hartfiel et al. (2011) found that a six week program of Yoga reduced anxiety and fatigue, while increasing emotional well-being and resilience to stress among university staff. Researchers conducted a randomised controlled study, with 48 university employees. The yoga group participated in a six week program which involved attending at least one yoga class a week. The other group were placed on a waiting list. The study found that this short yoga program significantly enhanced well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace in comparison to the control. ‘The yoga group reported marked improvements to those who were placed on a waiting list. Improvements listed by participants included ‘feelings of clear-mindedness, composure, elation, energy, and confidence. In addition, the yoga group reported increased life purpose and satisfaction, and feelings of greater self-confidence during stressful situations’. The control reported no such difference (Hartfiel at al., 2011).
Accessible stress management
The ancient practice of Yoga has also been compared with other stress management techniques for employees in the work place such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Granath et al. (2006) took 33 participants from a large Swedish company who were then divided randomly into 2 groups for each of the different forms of intervention. Psychological and physiological measurements of well-being were taken pre and post treatment. The findings showed no significant difference between the 2 techniques and both Yoga and CBT were shown to be promising stress management techniques. As yoga is a less expensive intervention and can be practiced long after one has learned yogic techniques this is especially meaningful.
Gura et al. (2002) also acknowledged that performance at work is affected by stress. This study revealed that Yoga and Mindfulness can reduce stress and relieve muscular tension or pain. In addition to stress reduction, practicing Yoga and Mindfulness was correlated with a decrease in the number of incidents of injury whilst employees were on the job. Compared with the control group, the yogic intervention showed significantly greater improvements on The Perceived Stress Scale, sleep quality, and the heart rhythm coherence ratio of heart rate variability. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based and therapeutic yoga programs may provide viable and effective interventions to target high stress levels, sleep quality, and autonomic balance in employees.
Little and often
Melville et al. (2012) investigated if short bursts of mind body techniques could reduce stress. The research team examined the physiological and psychological effects of yoga postures and guided meditation for stress. These were all practiced seated in a typical office workspace. They found that by practicing just 15 minutes a day, without leaving their desk, a sample of twenty participants reported significant reduction in their stress levels which was maintained post intervention.
See Charlotte’s 8 minute office yoga sequence or 25 minute morning or evening sequences to build up your little and often.