410 Stress & Yoga

Research by Schmalzl, Laura, Powers, Chivon, Zanesco, AnthonyP., Yetz, Neil, Groessl, ErikJ., & Saron, CliffordD. (2018).

Written by Robin N. Fatovic B.S.

Did you know that both your mind and body feel the effects of stress? Accumulating research indicates that yoga practices reduce stress and have other benefits.

Southern California University of Health Sciences Psychologist Laura Schmalzland colleagues examined what aspects of yoga have an impact on stress levels and sustained attention.

Researchers assigned 40 young adults who had never attended yoga classes to an 8 weeks class. Half of the participants focused more on the movements of the practice and half on their breathing during yoga. Before and after their practice, researchers measured their perceived stress levels and levels of attention using a computerized program. They also measured their cortisol levels, as the body tends to release this hormone when stressed.

Results? Participants in both groups reported feeling less stress after 8 weeks, and their bodies reported the same, having significantly lower cortisol levels. However, participants only in the breath-focused group showed significant increased sustained attention.

Next time you are feeling stressed, consider learning about the practice of yoga to improve your health of both mind and body. Take a break from sustained work or study, use yoga breathing, it might help get your attention back on track.


Schmalzl, L., Powers, C., Zanesco, A. P., Yetz, N., Groessl, E. J., & Saron, C. D. (2018). The effect of movement-focused and breath-focused yoga practice on stress parameters and sustained attention: A randomized controlled pilot study. Consciousness and Cognition, 65, 109–125. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.07.012

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