Aetna Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace Trial Results Published

The AVI/Aetna collaboration represents a significant step in the integration of ancient insights into health and healing with modern evidence-based research. Hopefully this type of collaboration will lead to more widespread adoption of self-care practices that support people in their wellness and reduce the burden of stress-related disease on the health care system.
— Gary Kraftsow, MA, E-RYT 500
Founder and Director
American Viniyoga Institute

The Aetna, Inc. Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace Trial, recently published in the online version of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, investigated the impact on perceived stress level and other variables with two distinct mind-body approaches. The Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program (therapeutic Viniyoga) and Mindfulness at Work (mindfulness meditation) were each compared to a control group. These programs helped participants significantly reduce their perceived stress levels while improving their ability to respond to stress.

  • Participants in the mind-body stress reduction treatment groups (mindfulness and Viniyoga) showed significant improvements in perceived stress with 36 and 33 percent decreases in stress levels respectively, as compared to an 18 percent reduction for the control group as measured with the Perceived Stress Scale.
  • Participants in the two mind-body interventions also saw significant improvements in a biological marker called heart rhythm coherence, suggesting that their bodies were better able to manage stress.
  • A statistically significant improvement in a biological marker called heart rhythm coherence (a measure of autonomic balance) suggests that the participants in the two study treatment or intervention groups were better able to manage stress.
  • Sleep quality as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index also improved compared to controls.
  • The Viniyoga study group reported less current pain compared to controls.
  • The study found that these improvements occurred in about half the length of time using the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program and Mindfulness at Work.
  • Developed and studied in a collaborative effort with Aetna, Duke Integrative Medicine, eMindful and the American Viniyoga Institute, this study contributes to the body of evidence for the use of mind-body approaches to reduce stress and improve health.
  • The programs, Mindfulness at Work (mindfulness meditation) and Viniyoga Stress Reduction (therapeutic Viniyoga) are sold to worksites through Aetna, Inc.

The Viniyoga Stress Reduction program is a 12-week therapeutic yoga-based program. Participants in the worksite trial received instruction for managing stress including physical yoga postures, breathing techniques, guided relaxation and mental skills. The classes also provided coping strategies for dealing with stressful events and promoted use of home and office strategies for reducing stress through yoga. The program offered weekly in-person classes, home practice handouts and yoga break handouts for home and office use.


News Release February 23, 2012 – Aetna Delivers Evidence-based Mind-Body Stress Management Programs

Learn more about the Viniyoga approach used in this intervention in AVI professional training programs.

Watch Gary Kraftsow as he provides an overview on the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program in this video.