Mindful Yoga to Help Treat Opioid Dependence

Duration: 2018 - Present
Funding: Penn State Social Science Research Institute
Principal Investigator: Emma Rose
Co-Investigator: Diana Fishbein
Co-Investigator: Robert W. Roeser
Co-Investigator: Scott Bunce

woman with dog by her side doing yoga in an online class


With more than 100 people dying from opioid overdoses each day in the U.S., new approaches to treating opioid-use disorders are needed. Emma Rose is leading a study that adds twice-weekly, mindfulness-based yoga to treatment plans for patients with opioid-use disorders in rural Pennsylvania.

"We hope to impart skills that help people to stay sober and stay in recovery for longer."

Principal investigator Emma Rose

The study divides participants who are receiving medication-assisted treatment in three clinics in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, into two groups, with one group taking two one-hour online yoga classes twice per week for 8 weeks, while the control group will walk for exercise for up to 2 hours per week.

Mindful yoga can impact brain systems that play an important role in the success of addiction treatment — including our brains’ abilities to regulate craving, to adapt to new or changing events, and to ignore distractions.

If this study yields promising results, it could lead to a larger study in which researchers use brain imaging to measure the impact of mindfulness practices on brain function in patients with opioid use disorders.

Project Team