Date of Graduation

Summer 2019


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Amber Massey-Abernathy


yoga, stress, TSST, cortisol, stress response, stress reduction, gentle yoga

Subject Categories

Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Biological Psychology | Health Psychology


Short-term, activation of the human stress response system is beneficial as it prepares the body to deal with stressors at hand (McEwen & Stellar, 1993). If this system is overactive or chronically active however, it can negatively impact health and longevity (Cohen, Janicki-Deverts, & Miller, 2007). According to a review conducted by Ross & Thomas (2010) implementation of a yoga practice has been shown to down-regulate the stress response system. The present study aimed to expand on current research involving yoga for stress reduction by exploring whether participation in gentle yoga could decrease the stress response more quickly than naturally occurs after psychological stress exposure. Participants were exposed to a psychological stress test, then randomly assigned to take part in a gentle yoga sequence or watch a neutral video. Analyses through independent sample t-tests indicated faster decline in salivary cortisol concentrations from initial stress response for participants that took part in gentle yoga. Results suggest participation in a gentle yoga practice helps decrease the stress response more quickly than occurs naturally following psychological stress exposure.


© Tabetha Gaile Hopke

Open Access