Effects of Hatha yoga on stress in middle-aged women

J Nurs Res. 2013 Mar;21(1):59-66. doi: 10.1097/jnr.0b013e3182829d6d.


Background: Stress is considered a crucial trigger for physical and mental illness. Stress reduction is a known long-term benefit of regular Hatha yoga practice. The efficacy of a single-session Hatha yoga class on stress reduction is not currently known.

Purpose: This study investigated the comparative effectiveness of a single 90-minute Hatha yoga class and an 8-week, 90-minute-class-per-week course.

Methods: We used a quasiexperimental design and recruited 63 female community residents in New Taipei City aged 40-60 years. Participants were randomly divided into an experimental group (n = 30) and a control group (n = 33). The experimental group received the 8-week Hatha yoga course. The control group received no intervention. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and heart rate variability (HRV) assessed stress reduction effectiveness. Chi-square, independent t test, paired t test, and generalized estimating equations were used for data analysis.

Results: After a single 90-minute class of Hatha yoga, experimental group PSS scores were significantly less than those of the control group (p = .001). Although experimental group HRV (low-frequency norm and high-frequency norm) had improved, these changes were not statistically significant (p = .059). PSS scores for the single 90-minute class and 8-week course did not significantly differ (p = .157) and HRV of statistics is significant (p = .005). Generalized estimating equations analyzed changes in the effectiveness over time of stress reduction (HRV and PSS) after the Hatha yoga intervention. Results showed the postintervention HRV and PSS of the experimental group decreased significantly (p < .001) more than the control group.

Conclusions/implications for practice: Our findings support the position that regular, long-term practice of Hatha yoga provides clear and significant health benefits. Participation in a single 90-minute Hatha yoga class can significantly reduce perceived stress. Doing Hatha yoga regularly can reduce perceived stress even more significantly.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Yoga*