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Int J Yoga. 2016 Jan-Jun;9(1):20-6. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.171718.

Improvements in well-being and vagal tone following a yogic breathing-based life skills workshop in young adults: Two open-trial pilot studies.

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Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, GA, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, GA, USA.
International Association for Human Values, Washington, DC, USA; Nova Southeastern University Lifelong Learning Institute, Davie, FL, GA, USA.
RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, GA, USA.
RTI International, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, GA, USA.
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State University, State College, PA, USA.



While efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) has been demonstrated in a number of prior studies, little is known about the effects of SKY taught as part of the Your Enlightened Side (YES+) workshop designed for college students and other young adults.


This study aimed to assess the effects of YES+, a yogic breathing-based life skills workshop, on multiple measures of well-being and physiological stress response.


Two nonrandomized open-trial pilot studies were conducted with a total of 74 young adults (age 25.4 ± 6.6 years; 55% female). Study 1 collected a variety of self-report questionnaires at baseline, postworkshop, and 1-month follow-up. Study 2 collected self-report questionnaires in addition to electrocardiography with a stationary cycling challenge at baseline and 1-month follow-up.


Study 1: Improvements in self-reported depression (P's ≤ 0.010), perceived stress (P's ≤ 0.002), life satisfaction (P's ≤ 0.002), social connectedness (P's ≤ 0.004), and gratitude (P's ≤ 0.090) were observed at postworkshop and 1-month after workshop relative to baseline. Study 2: Improvements in self-reported emotion regulation were observed at 1-month follow-up relative to baseline (P = 0.019). Positive and Negative Affect Schedule-Expanded Form positive affect increased (P = 0.021), while fatigue and sadness decreased (P's ≤ 0.005). During the stationary cycling challenge, rate to recovery of electrocardiography inter-beat interval also increased from baseline to 1-month follow-up (P = 0.077).


These findings suggest that a life skills workshop integrating yogic breathing techniques may provide self-empowering tools for enhancing well-being in young adults. Future research is indicated to further explore these effects, particularly in regards to vagal tone and other aspects of stress physiology.


Emotion regulation; meditation; stress management; vagal tone; well-being; yoga breathing techniques

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