Session of yoga, with and without slow (Ujjayi) breathing, reduces anxiety; no change on acute pain sensitivity and endogenous pain modulation

Author: Lashawnna N Ray1, Patrick J O'Connor2
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Military Performance Division, United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, 10 General Greene Ave, Natick, MA, 01760, USA; Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA. Electronic address: <sup>2</sup> Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA.
Conference/Journal: Explore (NY)
Date published: 2022 Jul 21
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2022.07.005. , Word Count: 268

Yoga is an increasingly popular mode of exercise that boasts health promoting effects including pain relief. A single bout of exercise induces a reduced sensitivity to noxious heat, but the mechanism for this effect and whether it occurs after a single session of yoga is unexplored. The primary aim of this study was to test, using a post-test only between-subjects design, main and interactive effects of yoga and slow breathing on both sensitivity to heat pain and endogenous pain modulation processing in healthy young women DESIGN: Fifty-four women were block randomized into one of four conditions: yoga with slow breathing instructions (Vinyasa), yoga with no breathing instructions, seated rest with slow breathing instructions and seated rest with no breathing instructions. The conditions were completed alone is a small room in which participant followed video-based instructions and models. The yoga was perceived as low-to-moderate intensity.

Two factor ANOVA demonstrated no significant association between yoga postures and slow breathing, and there was no significant interaction observed for sensitivity to heat pain or endogenous pain modulation. These findings were unchanged in ANCOVAs that controlled for four potential confounding variables: post-condition reduction in systolic blood pressure or state anxiety, pain induced by the conditions and expectations. Compared to the non-yoga conditions, participant in yoga conditions resulted in a significant reduction in state anxiety scores.

It is concluded that a single session of low-to-moderate intensity yoga with, or without slow breathing, reduces state anxiety but has no effect on heat pain sensitivity or endogenous pain modulation.

Keywords: Anxiety; Conditioned pain modulation; Endogenous pain; Slow breathing; Yoga.

PMID: 35915040 DOI: 10.1016/j.explore.2022.07.005