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Faculty Mentors

Dr. Emily Simonavice, Dr. Derek Monroe

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if perceived stress levels and response inhibition scores (measure of cognitive function) differ in female college students who regularly participate in yoga compared to female college students who do not.

Methods: College-aged females ranging from 19-24 years of age were recruited to participate in this study. Subjects filled out a personal information sheet followed by a perceived stress level questionnaire to measure the amount of yoga each participant performed and assess their perceived stress level, respectively. Response inhibition and accuracy (cognitive function) were measured via a computerized Stroop Effect test consisting of three modules. The research project implemented a cross-sectional design, with the independent variable being past yoga experience (no previous experience & regular yoga participation) and the dependent variables being perceived stress level and response inhibition (speed & accuracy) score of the Stroop Effect test. Significance was accepted at p ≤0.05.

Results: An independent t-test revealed that there were no differences in average reaction time or percent accuracy between yogis and novice yogis. The difference between average perceived stress scores (PSS) in advanced versus novice yogis was not found to be significant (p = 0.06). The PSS for novice yogis was 17.28 ± 4.20 while that for advanced yogis was 21.59 ± 7.96.

Conclusion: The study concludes that PSS in advanced yogis compared to novice yogis did not differ. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in cognitive ability between the groups. Future studies should seek to further investigate various measures of cognitive abilities in these populations. More research should be implemented to discern the true effects of yoga on an individual’s perceived stress level.

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