This proposal will investigate the potential effects of an acute yoga intervention on an objective measure of self-control in a sample of nicotine-dependent smokers. This is the first study evaluating the effects of yoga practice on self-control and will provide critical data about the potential of yoga-based interventions to treat disorders that have self-control as one of their main components. Low self-control has been associated to an extensive range of unhealthy behaviors including substance abuse, compulsive eating and gambling, and attention-deficit disorders. Therefore, interventions with the potential to increase self-control may prove widely beneficial. As a practice that enhances self-awareness, yoga is an ideal candidate intervention to increase individual self-control~ and if the study aims are met, new treatment strategies would be suggested for additional study, that could supplement or replace existing treatments and increase successful management and/or recovery from disease. Accordingly, this proposal focuses on the impact of yoga on self-control in the context of tobacco addiction. Through a 3-arm randomized controlled trial design we will assess the influence of yoga on self-control, and compare that to an exercise intervention matched for metabolic expenditure, and to a health and wellness education program in confirmed 12-hour abstinent nicotine-dependent smokers. The primary outcome, self- control, represented by latency to smoking, will be measured using a laboratory model of abstinence reinforcement in which participants receive a monetary reward that increases as they spend time without smoking. This behavioral paradigm of self-control has been applied successfully in outpatient settings and in the laboratory. Secondary measures include questionnaires on self-control, mood, cigarette craving, and withdrawal symptoms before the intervention, right after, and at 4-weeks follow-up. Delay discounting performance, response inhibition, personality traits, anxiety, perceived stress, mindfulness, and expectancy will be obtained at baseline and used to identify correlates of the effect of yoga on self-control. The project is perfectly tailored to the skills o the research team, which is comprised of an early career principal investigator that also is a certifie yoga instructor, and two highly experienced co-investigators with experience in clinical research.
Low self-control has been associated to a number of unhealthy behaviors with low treatment success. Alternative non-pharmacological approaches have the potential for enhancing self-control. This proposal will investigate if the practice of yoa improves self-control in the context of nicotine addiction, and set the stage for larger clinical trials using yoga to supplement or replace existing treatments and increase the rates of recovery from disorders in which low self-control is a susceptibility factor.