Researchers of Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, & Integrative Medicine and Health

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Examining the Acute Effects of Hatha Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation on Executive Function and Mood

The objective of this study was to compare the acute effects of hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation on executive function and mood. Using a within-subjects experimental design, 31 moderately experienced hatha yoga practitioners (mean age 27.71 ± 8.32) completed three counterbalanced sessions: hatha yoga (conscious movement and meditation), meditation (mindfulness of breath, emotions, thoughts, and body sensations), and a reading control task. Executive function was assessed using the Stroop task at baseline and at two follow-up points (5 and 10 min post-session). Self-reported mood was measured using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) at baseline and immediately following each session. Findings indicated that hatha yoga (p = .002) and meditation (p = .044) both resulted in significantly improved Stroop performance, though the two conditions did not differ significantly from each other (p = .728). The cognitive benefits in both cases were evident at the 10-min post-session delay but not at the 5-min post-session delay. With respect to mood outcomes, hatha yoga (p < .001) and meditation (p = .050) both resulted in significantly improved POMS total mood scores. Hatha yoga and meditation did not differ significantly from each other in regard to POMS total mood (p = .079), though hatha yoga showed significantly greater benefits on the vigor-activity subscale (p = .006). Overall, findings suggest that acute bouts of hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation benefit executive function and mood to a similar degree. Read more here.