Hatha Yoga is a form of Yoga that employs a number of different body positions. These postures are held in place for a period of time before moving to the next while utilizing a specific breathing technique.

Movement is slow, and focus is placed on the body and how the body reacts to different postures. Practitioners scan their bodies to become aware of stiff muscles, which they can then loosen until the posture is correctly attained. The abdominal breathing technique and focus of awareness onto the body are the mental component, with the focus of awareness to the present asana and physical experience helping to centre the self in the present moment.

Because there is a focus of awareness to the present moment, the practitioner reaches a state of deep relaxation [1]. Along with this are physiological changes resulting from a calming of the sympathetic nervous system, such as the lowering of breathing rate, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption, muscle tension, and a change in brain waves [1], [2], [3].

Due to these physiological changes and the mental focus on the present moment, yoga practice has been shown to help increase levels of mindfulness and decrease levels of stress in the practitioner [4].

Mindfulness is defined as ‘‘an enhanced attention to and awareness of current experience or present reality’ [5]’. An inverse relationship exists between mindfulness and stress levels [4]. Mindfulness training in chronic pain has been shown to result in statistically significant reductions in:

  • measures of present moment pain

  • negative body image

  • inhibition of activity by pain

  • symptoms

  • mood disturbance

  • psychological symptomatology (anxiety and depression)

  • pain related drug utilization

  • activity limitation

  • negative self-esteem [6]


1. Arambula, P., Peper, E., Kawakami, M., & Gibney, K. (2001). The physiological correlates of Kundalini yoga meditation: A study of a yoga master. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 26(2), 147–153.

2. Murata, T., Takahashi, T., Hamada, T., Omori, M., Kosaka, H., Yoshida, H., et al. (2004). Individual trait anxiety levels characterizing the properties of Zen meditation. Neuropsychobiology, 50, 189–194. 

3. Telles, S., Joshi, M., Dash, M., Raghuraj, P., Naveen, K., & Nagendra, H. (2004). An evaluation of the ability to voluntarily reduce the heart rate after a month of yoga practice. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science, 39(2), 119–125.

4. Brisbon, N. M., & Lowery, G. A. (2011). Mindfulness and levels of stress: a comparison of beginner and advanced hatha yoga practitioners. Journal of religion and health, 50(4), 931-941.

5. Brown, K., & Ryan, R. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848.

6. Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., & Burney, R. (1985). The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. Journal of behavioral medicine, 8(2), 163-190.