Background: Stress and back pain are two key factors leading to sickness absence at work. Recent research indicates that yoga can be effective for reducing perceived stress, alleviating back pain, and improving psychological well-being.
Aims: To determine the effectiveness of a yoga-based intervention for reducing perceived stress and back pain at work.
Methods: Participants were recruited from a British local government authority and randomized into a yoga group who received one 50 min Dru Yoga session each week for 8 weeks and a 20 min DVD for home practice and a control group who received no intervention. Baseline and end-programme measurements of self-reported stress, back pain and psychological well-being were assessed with the Perceived Stress Scale, Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire and the Positive and Negative Affect Scale.
Results: There were 37 participants in each group. Analysis of variance and multiple linear regression showed that in comparison to the control group, the yoga group reported significant reductions in perceived stress and back pain, and a substantial improvement in psychological well-being. When compared with the control group at the end of the programme, the yoga group scores were significantly lower for perceived stress, back pain, sadness and hostility, and substantially higher for feeling self-assured, attentive and serene.
Conclusions: The results indicate that a workplace yoga intervention can reduce perceived stress and back pain and improve psychological well-being. Larger randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the broader efficacy of yoga for improving workplace productivity and reducing sickness absence.