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Research Projects

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Mindfulness-Based Yoga Intervention for Women With Elevated Levels of Depressive Symptoms


Katie Schuver, PhD, E-RYT 500, RPYT


Study completed; manuscript in progress.

One of the most common and debilitating health conditions in the United States and worldwide is major depression. Preliminary evidence indicates that Hatha Yoga may be an effective intervention for the management and treatment of depressive symptoms. Although compelling, these results are preliminary given the many substantial methodological limitations. Additional research is needed that addresses these limitations.

The current study was a prospective, randomized, controlled intervention pilot study examining the efficacy of a 12-week mindfulness-based yoga intervention relative to a walking health education comparison condition among sedentary women (n=40) with elevated levels of depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms and other wellness outcomes were assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and one-month follow-up.

Both groups reported decreases in depressive symptoms from baseline to post-intervention, f (1,33)=34.83, p<.001, and from baseline to one-month follow-up, f (1,33)=37.01, p<.001. After controlling for baseline, there were no significant between group differences on depression scores at post-intervention and one-month follow-up assessments.

The mindfulness-based yoga condition reported significantly lower levels of rumination than the walking health education comparison condition, after controlling for baseline levels of rumination, at post-intervention, (f (1,31)=6.23, p<0.01). Similar improvements for both groups from baseline to post-intervention were observed for increased moderate intensity physical activity, perceived stress, mindfulness, quality of life, and sleep disturbance; however, there were no differences between groups.

Results indicate that yoga may be effective for reducing rumination; however, its effect on depressive symptoms is less clear. Future studies, with larger samples are needed to address the effect of yoga on depression.

Effect of Exercise and Wellness Interventions on Preventing Postpartum Depression


Beth Lewis, PhD, and Katie Jo Schuver, PhD, E-RYT 500, RPYT


Study in progress. Funded by National Institute of Mental Health #R01 MH096748 ($1,026,826 direct costs).


The purpose of this study is to examine the efficacy of exercise and wellness/support interventions for preventing depression among women at risk for postpartum depression.

The exercise intervention is based on an intervention previously shown to increase exercise among postpartum women.

The efficacy of exercise and wellness/support interventions are compared to each other and to a usual care arm.

The primary outcome variables are findings from The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Potential mediator variables include sleep, fatigue, stress levels, and body image.

Yoga as a Psychological Intervention: Consceptualizations and Practice Integration of Professional Psychologist-Yoga Teachers


Anna Roth, PhD, RYT-500


Study completed; manuscript in progress.


Yoga is being increasingly utilized as a mental health intervention in the United States (Kinser, Goehler, & Taylor, 2012; Bennett, Weintraub, & Khalsa, 2008; Khalsa, 2004). However, little research has been done examining yoga through a psychological lens and no prior research has attempted to articulate an initial psychological conceptualization of yoga.

In the present study, 14 individuals dually trained as Psychologists (PhD or PsyD) and Registered Yoga Teachers participated in semi-structured telephone interviews to aid in the examination of two primary research questions: (1) How do individuals dually trained as psychologists and yoga teachers conceptualize yoga as a mental health intervention? (2) In what ways do psychologists trained as yoga teachers integrate their dual training into their current professional psychology practice?

Interviews were analyzed by a research team of three researchers and two study auditors who employed a modified version of the Consensual Qualitative Research methodology (CQR; Hill et al., 1997; 2005; 2012).

Five domains and 15 categories were revealed from the data to address the research questions. The derived domains were Provider Context, Conceptualization Content, Conceptualization Process, Clinical Implications, and Practice Integration.

The study found four explicit yoga components to be essential for psychological benefit (in order of prevalence): breath, mindfulness/meditation, relationship with self, and connection with body. Further, three implicit essential components were classified as increased distress tolerance, openness to yoga, and using “mat as metaphor” for life.

Disorders identified as benefiting most from a yoga intervention included anxiety-based disorders (including trauma), and eating, substance abuse, and mood disorders.

Cautions were expressed related to Axis II and psychosis. The study also found that participants incorporate yoga in some combination of the following: individual therapy breath work, mindfulness and yoga philosophy, group therapy with a yoga component, and workshops.

The ideal integration of yoga in traditional mental health was identified as a combination of yoga with traditional therapeutic modalities, a systemic shift toward a more holistic healing paradigm generally, and opportunities to practice in a holistic community of integrative multidisciplinary providers in one community setting. Major study findings, study strengths and limitations, and implications are discussed.

Validity Testing and Refinement of the Constitutional Self-Assessment Tool and Lifestyle Guidelines Tool


Cameron, M.E., Torkelson, C., Namdul, T., Prasek, A., & Gross, C.R.


Tibetan medicine offers an ancient, timely model for the promotion of health and treatment of disease by teaching individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices. This holistic model consists of analyzing one's unique constitution and recommending supportive lifestyle modifications. An experienced Tibetan medicine practitioner is the gold standard for constitutional assessment. Because few Tibetans practice Tibetan medicine in the United States, research-based tools with content and criterion validity are needed for self-assessment.


To test the validity of and refine the Constitutional Self-Assessment Tool (CSAT) and Lifestyle Guidelines Tool (LGT).


Mixed methods pilot study conducted in three phases.


Tibetan Medical Institute (TMI) of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India and the University of Minnesota, a U.S. research University.


Six TMI senior faculty; 88 students at the university.


Phase 1: TMI faculty evaluated the tools' content validity. Phase 2: 59 students completed the CSAT, had a Tibetan medicine consultation, completed the LGT, and answered qualitative questions. Phase 3: 29 students studying Tibetan medicine followed a modified phase 2 method. Quantitative and phenomenological analyses were performed to investigate the CSAT's criterion validity (agreement of CSAT results and consultations) and refine the tools.


The tools were shown to have high content validity. Phase 2 CSAT had 51% agreement and 0.24 kappa statistic, suggesting fair criterion validity. Phase 3–refined CSAT had 76% agreement and 0.50 kappa statistic, suggesting moderate criterion validity.


The refined CSAT and LGT in demonstrate the potential for additional research and use in integrated care.

Read the abstract

Effect of a Tibetan Medicine Educational Intervention on the Constitutional Self-Assessment Tool & Lifestyle Guidelines Tool


Cameron, M. E., Namdul, T., & Clevenger, B.


Study completed; manuscript in progress.

Effectiveness of a Tibetan Medicine Intervention in a Mind-Body Skills Group


Cameron, M. E., Clevenger, B., & Namdul, T.


Study completed; manuscript in progress.