Impact of a Yin Yoga and meditation intervention on pharmacy faculty and student well-being

Virginia Lemay
John Hoolahan
Ashley Buchanan, University of Rhode Island


Background: Student pharmacists and faculty exhibit high levels of stress, independent of the current coronavirus 2019 pandemic, and their path toward wellness, including a reduction in stress and anxiety, is of the utmost importance. Yoga and meditation are proven interventions to reduce stress and anxiety and increase wellness. Yin yoga is an adaptable, quiet practice ideal for those lacking previous yoga experience, flexibility, and time. Objective: To evaluate the impact of a 6-week yin yoga and meditation intervention on College of Pharmacy faculty and students’ stress perception, anxiety levels, and mindfulness skills. Methods: Faculty and students participated in a 6-week pilot program comprising a once-weekly yin yoga class followed by guided meditation. Yin yoga was selected for its quiet meditative style. Participants completed a pre- and postquestionnaire at 6 weeks and 3 and 6 months to evaluate potential changes in perceived stress scores, anxiety scores, and mindfulness skills. The questionnaire was composed of 3 self-reporting tools: Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Perceived Stress Scale, and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. Results: Twenty participants, 12 students and 8 faculty (ages 18-66 years), completed the study. Anxiety and stress scores decreased, and mindfulness increased at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months, with all changes reaching statistical significance. No participants reported being in the “high” category of anxiety after intervention using BAI categorical data, although this finding was not statistically significant. Conclusion: Faculty and students demonstrated a reduction in stress and anxiety levels and an increase in mindfulness after a 6-week yin yoga and meditation program. Outcomes suggest that inclusion of an adaptable, meditative practice, which may easily be replicated at home, for as little as once per week for 6 weeks may reduce stress and anxiety and increase mindfulness long term. Creating a culture of wellness should be a priority for all Colleges of Pharmacy.