The Effects of Hatha Yoga on Anxiety, Stress and Trait Mindfulness
Mindfulness based interventions (MBI) which entail yoga practices, have been shown to have mediating effects in a lot of mental and also physical conditions: anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression  and even multiple sclerosis . This study addresses the question, how Hatha Yoga practice (this is a practice focusing on breath and meditation work during the bodily movements) affects individuals’ stress, anxiety, attention and trait mindfulness (TM), and how these effects are moderated by pre-intervention trait mindfulness. TM refers to the capacity of maintaining attention to present-moment experiences with a non-judgmental attitude. While MBI’s have gained more attention in research, what makes this study innovative, is that it is using a study sample of total n = 122 while using a control group as a contrast (not having any intervention) and using a combination of methods, such as questionnaires, EEG measurements and biological marker assessments instead of focusing on one of these methods. Furthermore, the type of yoga intervention is clearly specified and more extensive compared to other studies.
The study is using a pretest-posttest design. The data analysis will be focused on three primary outcomes:
1) ‘task switching’ and inhibition of attention: differences in participants’ ability to change between distinct tasks and inhibiting stimuli (through EEG and behavioural computer tests)
2) stress through biological markers (saliva samples) like cortisol and alpha-amylase levels
3) subjectively reported stress and anxiety levels as well as TM (pre- and post- questionnaires).
While we expect an increase of TM and a decrease of cortisol, alpha-amylase, self- reported stress and anxiety levels in the intervention group (which is absolving an eight-week yoga course, with compulsory attendance of at least three times a week), we also expect a significant difference of these effects in the control group. This study could help optimized MBI application in the future, where specific MBI components could be assigned to specific target groups (through taking into account pre-TM and its influence on post-TM), which can be especially useful during a time where stress and anxiety levels are on the rise worldwide .
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