Comparing the Training Effects of Slow Flow to Power Yoga on Flexibility, Balance and Aerobic Capacity in College-Aged Females

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Dr. Maureen Dunn

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Yoga practice has become an increasingly popular form of exercise among various populations. However, a comprehensive comparison outlining the benefits from each of the many forms of yoga practice does not exist. This study was designed to determine whether participating in Vinyasa yoga (VIN, n=11) or Hatha yoga (HATHA, n=9) for 60 minutes, 2 times a week for 4.5 weeks would result in greater improvements in overall flexibility, balance, and aerobic fitness compared to a control group (n=6) that did not do any yoga training. It was hypothesized that participants in the VIN group would display a greater increase in aerobic capacity compared to the HATHA group and control group, and that those in the HATHA yoga group would improve more in flexibility and balance compared to the control group. Following 4.5 weeks of yoga training, significant improvements were seen in sit-and-reach score (HATHA pre: 40.9 +/- 2.1 cm, HATHA post: 42.6 +/- 1.7 cm, VIN pre: 39.1 +/- 1.9 cm, VIN post: 44.0 +/- 1.6 cm, p=0.003) and shoulder flexion (HATHA pre: 170. +/- 3.0 degrees, HATHA post: 178.1 +/- 1.7 degrees, VIN pre: 179.8 +/- 2.7 degrees, VIN post: 183.7 +/- 1.6 degrees, p=0.008). Improvements were also observed in time to hold single leg stance with eyes closed (HATHA pre: 18.9 +/- 5.5 seconds, post: 29.5 +/- 6.1 seconds, VIN pre: 35.5 +/- 5.0 seconds, VIN post: 41.4 +/- 5.5, p=0.058), but there was not enough statistical power to see significant differences between HATHA and VIN yoga groups or CON. Therefore, it may be suggested that participation in a yoga training program will result in increases in flexibility and balance, but neither Hatha nor power Vinyasa regimens will result in more significant gains than the other.

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