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Hot, sweaty, and satisfied: Effects of Bikram yoga on psychological well-being

Allison A. Rissell, Brian K. Miller, Lisa K. Lloyd, James S. Williams.


Background: Bikram yoga is sometimes referred to as hot yoga and a typical class is 90-minutes in duration, consists of 26 Hatha yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises, and is performed in a room heated to 41°C (105° F) with 40% humidity. This study examined the effects of Bikram yoga on two aspects of psychological well-being: core self-evaluation (CSE) and life satisfaction. Core self-evaluation is sometimes referred to as positive self-concept and is comprised of aspects of self-esteem, self-efficacy, locus of control, and emotional stability. Life satisfaction is a holistic appraisal of one’s life in which a comparison is made of one’s current circumstances to what is thought to be an appropriate internally determined personal standard.
Methods: Twenty-two subjects completed a 60-day Bikram yoga challenge. Self-report survey responses were gathered before and immediately after the challenge. A within-subjects one group pretest-posttest experimental design was used.
Results: Bonferroni-adjusted t-tests for change over time in CSE and life satisfaction were both statistically significant. Cohen’s d statistic as a measure of effect size was .53 for core-self-evaluation and .40 for life satisfaction.
Conclusions: Life satisfaction and CSE each improved over the course of the intervention. It is likely that the well-known effects of participating in intense physical exercise also contributed to improvements in psychological well-being.

Key words: Bikram yoga; core self-evaluation; life satisfaction; experiment; psychological well-being

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