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11-11-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 12/2019 Open Access

Mindfulness 12/2019

Yogic Breathing and Mindfulness as Stress Coping Mediate Positive Health Outcomes of Yoga

Mindfulness > Uitgave 12/2019
Una Tellhed, Daiva Daukantaitė, Rachel E. Maddux, Thomas Svensson, Olle Melander
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Una Tellhed and Daiva Daukantaitė contributed equally to this work.

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Despite accumulating research on yoga and its positive impact on both physiological and psychological health, it is still unclear how yoga improves health. Two central components of yoga, yogic breathing and mindfulness, may be important mechanisms by which individuals learn to cope with their daily stressors, and thereby reduce their risk of developing stress-related illness. In this study, we experimentally tested whether yogic breathing as a stress coping mechanism and increased mindfulness mediates the psychological health benefits of a yoga intervention


Seventy-one middle-aged adults (78% women; Mage 53.5 ± 6.9) who self-rated as moderately stressed were randomly assigned to either a control group or a 5-week yoga intervention called the Yoga and Mindfulness Intervention (YOMI) program. The YOMI combines 60 min of yin yoga practice with 30 min of psychoeducation, administered twice weekly; participants also completed a 5-min breathing exercise as homework daily.


The YOMI group showed greater reductions in anxiety, depression, and sleep problems compared with controls (R2 varied between .09 to .23), and these reductions were statistically mediated by increased use of yogic breathing and a related increase in participants’ overall mindfulness.


These mediation results provide new insights into how yoga improves psychological health and suggests promising implications for policymakers aimed at improving public health.

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