Author(s): Medina J, Hopkins L, Powers M, Baird SO, Smits J
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Abstract Individuals with low distress tolerance (DT) experience negative emotion as particularly threatening and are highly motivated to reduce or avoid such affective experiences. Consequently, these individuals have difficulty regulating emotions and tend to engage in maladaptive strategies, such as overeating, as a means to reduce or avoid distress. Hatha yoga encourages one to implement present-centered awareness and non-reaction in the face of physical and psychological discomfort and, thus, emerges as a potential strategy for increasing DT. To test whether a hatha yoga intervention can enhance DT, a transdiagnostic risk and maintenance factor, this study randomly assigned females high in emotional eating in response to stress (N = 52) either to an 8-week, twice-weekly hatha (Bikram) yoga intervention or to a waitlist control condition. Self-reported DT and emotional eating were measured at baseline, weekly during treatment, and 1-week post-treatment. Consistent with prediction, participants in the yoga condition reported greater increases in DT over the course of the intervention relative to waitlist participants (Cohen's d = .82). Also consistent with prediction, the reduction in emotional eating was greater for the yoga condition than the waitlist condition (Cohen's d = .92). Importantly, reductions distress absorption, a specific sub-facet of DT, accounted for 15\% of the variance in emotional eating, a hallmark behavior of eating pathology and risk factor for obesity.
This article was published in Cogn Behav Ther
and referenced in Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy