The impact of yoga on cardiovascular reactivity, empathy & mindfulness
Previous studies have suggested that yoga may impact on health via a reduction in blood pressure (BP) among hypertensive populations, and a reduction in anxiety and depression among varied clinical populations. The current study hypothesized that an 8-week yoga intervention would reduce cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) to stress, reduce recovery time from stress, and increase levels of empathy and mindfulness in a normotensive population. The sample was comprised of 70 staff members and students of a medical school campus (mean age = 34.4 years, 84.3% female). The participants were assessed two times over an approximate 10-week period. Following the initial assessment, participants were assigned to either an intervention group, who began yoga classes immediately, or a wait-list control group, who waited for 8-weeks, had their second evaluation, and then began the yoga class. Participants were evaluated at both lab assessments for baseline BP, which was measured every two minutes for an adaptation period of ten minutes, CVR to two stressors (BP was taken every minute for four minutes), and BP during a recovery period (every two minutes for 20 minutes). Participants also completed questionnaires that assessed levels of empathy and mindfulness levels at both assessments. Results indicate that the yoga group experienced a significant increase in Overall Mindfulness, and in three of the mindfulness subscales; Attention to the Present Moment, Accepting and Open Attitudes Toward Experience and Insightful Understanding (p<.01). The control group experienced a significant increase in Overall Mindfulness (p<.02) and Insightful Understanding (p<.01). The intervention group experienced significantly faster recovery time following stress provocation from time one to time two in DBP (p<.03), and the control group experienced a significant reduction in CVR to stress in HR and SBP during the math task (p<.02, p<.03), and in HR during the anger task (p<.02). There was no significant change observed in the empathy measure. Results also indicate that it may be more difficult to promote cardiac change within a normotensive sample compared to a hypertensive sample.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 70-08, Section: B, page: 5226.;Advisors: Sonia Suchday.