Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 279-289

First online:

Yoga Ameliorates Performance Anxiety and Mood Disturbance in Young Professional Musicians

  • Sat Bir S. KhalsaAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolKripalu Center for Yoga and HealthSleep Disorders Research Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Email author 
  • , Stephanie M. ShorterAffiliated withKripalu Center for Yoga and Health
  • , Stephen CopeAffiliated withKripalu Center for Yoga and Health
  • , Grace WyshakAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health
  • , Elyse SklarAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Wayne State University

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Yoga and meditation can alleviate stress, anxiety, mood disturbance, and musculoskeletal problems, and can enhance cognitive and physical performance. Professional musicians experience high levels of stress, performance anxiety, and debilitating performance-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs). The goal of this controlled study was to evaluate the benefits of yoga and meditation for musicians. Young adult professional musicians who volunteered to participate in a 2-month program of yoga and meditation were randomized to a yoga lifestyle intervention group (n = 15) or to a group practicing yoga and meditation only (n = 15). Additional musicians were recruited to a no-practice control group (n = 15). Both yoga groups attended three Kripalu Yoga or meditation classes each week. The yoga lifestyle group also experienced weekly group practice and discussion sessions as part of their more immersive treatment. All participants completed baseline and end-program self-report questionnaires that evaluated music performance anxiety, mood, PRMDs, perceived stress, and sleep quality; many participants later completed a 1-year followup assessment using the same questionnaires. Both yoga groups showed a trend towards less music performance anxiety and significantly less general anxiety/tension, depression, and anger at end-program relative to controls, but showed no changes in PRMDs, stress, or sleep. Similar results in the two yoga groups, despite psychosocial differences in their interventions, suggest that the yoga and meditation techniques themselves may have mediated the improvements. Our results suggest that yoga and meditation techniques can reduce performance anxiety and mood disturbance in young professional musicians.


Yoga Meditation Music performance Anxiety Mood