A new study, presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference recently by associate professor, Jinger Gottschall, delivers insights into a new-generation yoga protocol, demonstrating the power of the discipline for people coping with life during this turbulent year.
The protocol tested was Les Mills Bodybalance, a class which blends elements of yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates with mindfulness. Bodybalance is delivered in 10,000 fitness clubs each week internationally.
The Les Mills Bodybalance and heart rate variability study measured a range of responses, with the research team collecting heart rate variability and survey data related to life satisfaction and sleep quality to inform their findings.
The study found that participants who incorporate three 30-40-minute sessions of this stretching and meditation protocol into their weekly routine, experienced significantly improved sleep and cardiovascular health, enhanced recovery from mental and physical stress and boosted positive feelings.
Researchers found that six sessions can increase participants’ Heart Rate Variability (HRV) enough to deliver:
15% – Improved sleep quality
39% – Increase in positive feelings relating to confidence
39% – Decrease in feelings of sadness and negativity
29% – Increase in motivation
26% – Decrease in negative emotions; anxiety and tension
18% – Increase in satisfaction with daily life
HRV is the measurement of interval variation between each beat of the heart – the tiny difference in the length of this interval is a sign of a healthy cardiovascular system and indicates that a person is in an optimal state of recovery.
Central to the results was a statistically significant increase in HRV, an accurate measure of the body’s ability to regulate vital health factors such as anxiety and sleep.
The higher the HRV score, the more likely we are to be equipped to cope with the pressures of daily life, while studies show that low HRV correlates with anxiety and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Gottschall said: “The study’s findings show that new-generation yoga is a useful active recovery solution for improving physical and mental health, with participants reporting feeling more positive, confident and motivated.”
Bryce Hastings, head of research at Les Mills said: “We need recovery from life, not just from exercise. This study demonstrates that we can enhance recovery from everyday stress and exhaustion through simple and targeted movement and mindfulness training.
“The increased popularity of recovery is sometimes misdirected,” said Hastings, “it assumes that only athletes and high-performance individuals need recovery. Due to the collective trauma our population has experienced in 2020, we’re starting to understand that increasing positive emotional, mental and physiological transformation can occur with small but consistent changes that are accessible to anyone. We’re pleased to show our evidence-backed workouts offer this.”
Gottschall said: “Many studies and research articles investigate sleep and sleep awareness using passive approaches as solutions. This study shows that an active approach is beneficial and positive for participants too.”