cohen, deborah r
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PublicationA Comparative Study of the Effects of Hatha Yoga and Seated Meditation on Mood Elevation(2007-09-07) cohen, deborah rObjective: The purpose of this study was to measure the extent to which a hatha yoga practice would improve mood as compared to a seated meditation practice. Methods: This was an eighteen week, cross-over design study in which forty-four hatha yoga students, largely inexperienced with seated meditation, were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group started with an eight week practice of hatha yoga, half an hour four times a week, and the other group practiced seated meditation. After eight weeks, all subjects stopped practicing for two weeks. Then they switched practices for another eight weeks. Both quantitative and qualitative measures were taken at the beginning of the study, after the first eight week practice, again after the two week break, and finally at the end of the study. The five quantitative measures used included a modified Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS-M), and the qualitative measures asked subjects to describe their mood, cognition, level of motivation and quality of life. Results: The findings suggest that for this population, hatha yoga had a stronger effect than meditation on improving mood. After the first eight week practice period, only hatha yoga improved mood. Meditation was more effective at improving cognition. During the two week break, the subjects who had practiced hatha yoga first suffered bodily discomfort and mental unrest. Those practicing meditation did not seem to suffer. When subjects practiced seated meditation as a second practice, they too experienced an improvement in mood, and during the second practice period both groups experienced a significant improvement in quality of life. Conclusion: These results demonstrate the efficacy of introducing more active people to a personal practice of seated mediation by first having them establish a hatha yoga practice. They also illustrate the powerful effect of hatha yoga on improving mood and the need for further research on the physiological effects of hatha yoga.