Combined yoga interventions provide more relaxation and less stress

Yoga is often equated with acrobatic stretching exercises supposed to induce relaxation and better body awareness. This benefit has been scientifically proven. What has been little studied so far is how different yoga techniques such as “sun salutation” or breathing exercises as well as meditation work in combination. Dr. Karin Matko, research associate at the chair of general professor and biopsychology (head: Prof. Dr. Udo Rudolph) at the Chemnitz University of Technology, addressed this question as first author. Dr. Peter Sedlmeier, Head of Research Methods and Evaluation at the Chemnitz University of Technology, and Dr. med. Holger C. Bringmann of Charité Berlin collaborated on the study.

In her evaluation of the results of 19 meta-analyses of a total of 330 studies – a so-called “meta-synthesis” – the psychologist found that combining different yoga techniques is linked to their benefits. Thus, an association increases the therapeutic or preventive benefits. “Our results, which are mostly consistent across the studies we reviewed, show that combining different elements in yoga is best. In almost all cases, combined interventions were superior to single interventions“, explains Karin Matko – whether the problem is high blood pressure, diabetes or depression. The combination of physical exercises with breathing techniques or meditation has proven to be particularly effective. However, there were also peculiarities : “In the case of asthma, for example, yoga only works if it includes breathing exercises.“, says Matko, who is also a qualified yoga teacher.

Results also confirmed experimentally

In another study, Matko was also able to confirm this result experimentally. She compared the effects of four different combinations of yoga, meditation, and the ethical underpinnings of yoga on healthy subjects with no prior experience: “If you want to avoid or reduce stress, the combination of yoga and meditation seems to be particularly helpful.,” she explains.

Additionally, Matko and his colleagues Sedlmeier and Bringmann show that a combination of meditation and ethical education can sustainably increase well-being: “The intense engagement with oneself during ethics education sessions seems to have had a truly lasting effect on our participants..” The researcher concludes that it can be useful to decorate yoga with its original “icing on the cake” and to practice it with meditation or other traditional practices.

The results of this research have been published online by LIDSEN Publishing Inc. and in Frontiers in Psychology.


Chemnitz University of Technology

Journal references:

  • Matko, K. et al. (2022) Effects of different components of yoga: A meta-synthesis. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine.
  • Matko, K. et al. (2022) Differential effects of ethics education, physical Hatha yoga and mantra meditation on well-being and stress in healthy participants – A single experimental case study. Frontiers in Psychology.

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