Objective. To evaluate the impact of a six-week yoga and meditation intervention on college students' stress perception, anxiety levels, and mindfulness skills. Methods. College students participated in a six-week pilot program that consisted of a 60-minute vinyasa flow yoga class once weekly, followed by guided meditation delivered by trained faculty members at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy. Students completed pre- and post-intervention questionnaires to evaluate changes in the following outcomes: stress levels, anxiety levels, and mindfulness skills. The questionnaire consisted of three self-reporting tools: the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Students' scores on each were assessed to detect any changes from baseline using the numerical and categorical scales (low, medium, and high) for each instrument. Results. Seventeen participants, aged 19 to 23 years, completed the study. Thirteen participants were female and four were male. Nine of the students were enrolled in the Doctor of Pharmacy program and eight were enrolled in other academic programs. Students' anxiety and stress scores decreased significantly while their total mindfulness increased significantly. Changes in categorical data from pre- to post-intervention on the BAI and PSS were significant, with no students scoring in the "high" category for stress or anxiety on the post-intervention questionnaire. Conclusion. Students experienced a reduction in stress and anxiety levels after completing a six-week yoga and meditation program preceding final examinations. Results suggest that adopting a mindfulness practice for as little as once per week may reduce stress and anxiety in college students. Administrators should consider including instruction in nonpharmacologic stress and anxiety reduction methods, within curricula in order to support student self-care.
Keywords: anxiety; meditation; mindfulness; stress; student; yoga.