Five yogic practices and their relation to psychological distress

Michael P Butler, Fordham University

Abstract

While yoga is more popular than ever with the American public, empirical research on yoga has lagged behind its growing popularity. Initial investigations of its practices have been promising but more research is needed. This study took measures to determine whether experience with each of five yogic practices was associated with decreased psychological distress. It was hypothesized that levels of experience with meditation, pranayama (breath regulation), and asana (stretching), and levels of effort at mindfulness and acceptance, would be negatively correlated with scores on the Global severity index (GSI) of the Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 1993) in two samples. Partial correlations controlling for objective stress, as measured by the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (Holmes & Rahe, 1967) were also computed to filter out the its effects on GSI scores. A significant negative Spearman's rho correlation, ρ(48) = -.31, p = .029, was found between amount of effort at acceptance and the GSI, in a small sample (N = 51) from Portland, OR, though it failed to remain significant when controlling for objective stress, r(43) = -.27, p = .069. Significant Spearman's rho correlations were found between indices of experience with all five practices and the GSI, in a sample of yoga students and teachers from the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy in Honesdale, PA (N = 184). Months experience with meditation, ρ(170) = -.21, p = .006, months experience with pranayama, ρ(173) = -.18, p = .02, months experience with asana, ρ(174) = -.23, p =.002, amount of effort at mindfulness, ρ(173) = -.22, p = .003, and amount of effort at acceptance, ρ(173) = -.36, p < .001, were all associated with decreased psychological distress. When controlling for objective stress, only months experience with asana, r(167) = -.20, p = .008, and amount of effort at acceptance, r(167) = -.26, p < .001, remained significantly correlated with the GSI, though the partial correlations for months experience with meditation, r(167) = -.15, p = .056, and amount of effort at mindfulness, r(167) = -.14, p = .068, approached significance. ^

Subject Area

Religion, Philosophy of|Philosophy|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Michael P Butler, "Five yogic practices and their relation to psychological distress" (January 1, 2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3216906.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3216906

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