Masters Thesis

A Comparison of Stress Relief Methods: Hatha Yoga Versus Meditation and Walking

Yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise in the West with promising findings of improved physiological and psychological well-being. However, researchers have expressed concern in its efficacy in a clinical setting. This study aimed to provide further evidence regarding yoga’s therapeutic efficacy in comparing both meditation and light cardio, along with further understanding whether the breathing (pranayama) or physical (asana) aspects of yoga contribute to its effectiveness. Participants (N = 48) were randomly assigned into either yoga, meditation, or walking conditions and completed five sessions at 30 minutes in length over the course of the week. Differences in reduced levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, along with improvements of mood between yoga, meditation, and walking interventions were assessed through a one-way ANOVA. Significant differences were not found between the interventions, failing to reject the null hypotheses. Considerations were made regarding yoga’s efficacy as a complementary therapy where other therapies, such as meditation or other forms of exercise, may be more appropriate. Limitations and implications for future research were also discussed.

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