A pilot study assessing acceptability and feasibility of hatha yoga for chronic pain in people receiving opioid agonist therapy for opioid use disorder

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2019 Oct;105:19-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2019.07.015. Epub 2019 Jul 24.


The purpose of this project was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a hatha yoga program designed to target chronic pain in people receiving opioid agonist therapy for opioid use disorder. We conducted a pilot randomized trial in which people with chronic pain who were receiving either methadone maintenance therapy (n = 20) or buprenorphine (n = 20) were randomly assigned to weekly hatha yoga or health education (HE) classes for 3 months. We demonstrated feasibility in many domains, including recruitment of participants (58% female, mean age 43), retention for follow-up assessments, and ability of teachers to provide interventions with high fidelity to the manuals. Fifty percent of participants in yoga (95% CI: 0.28-0.72) and 65% of participants in HE (95% CI: 0.44-0.87) attended at least 6 of 12 possible classes (p = 0.62). Sixty-one percent in the yoga group reported practicing yoga at home, with a mean number of times practicing per week of 2.67 (SD = 2.37). Participant mood improved pre-class to post-class, with greater decreases in anxiety and pain for those in the yoga group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, yoga can be delivered on-site at opioid agonist treatment programs with home practice taken up by the majority of participants. Future research may explore ways of increasing the yoga "dosage" received. This may involve testing strategies for increasing either class attendance or the amount of home practice or both.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03022890.

Keywords: Buprenorphine; Chronic pain; Methadone; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Yoga / psychology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03022890