Les Mills Research Reveals New Generation Yoga is the Ideal Antidote to the Stress of Modern Living

SOURCE: Les Mills

November 6, 2020 – New research1 by Les Mills demonstrates that regular sessions of new-generation yoga classes can help banish the lockdown blues, increase sleep quality and boost mental health. 

This timely research delivers key insights into one of the most popular programs in the world, demonstrating the power of new-generation yoga when recovering from life during such a turbulent time.

The research tracked Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and showed an increase in it with regular new-generation yoga – revealing that new-generation yoga classes are indeed much more than exercise. The following additional benefits were found from just six sessions:

  • 15% improved sleep quality
  • 39% increase in positive feelings relating to confidence
  • 39% decrease in feelings of sadness and negativity
  • 29% increase in motivation
  • 26% decrease in negative emotions; anxiety and tension
  • 18% increase in satisfaction with daily life

Heart Rate Variability

HRV is the measurement of interval variation between each beat of the heart. It is the tiny difference in the length of these intervals that is a sign of a healthy cardiovascular system and that a person is in an optimal state of recovery.

The higher the HRV, the more likely we are to be better equipped to cope with the pressures of daily life. Conversely, studies* show that low HRV correlates with anxiety and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

New Generation Yoga

BODYFLOW™ by Les Mills is a new-generation yoga practice which blends elements of yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates with mindfulness, in a workout format. It is one of the world’s most popular yoga programs, with over 10,000 fitness clubs across the globe running the class weekly.

Study Findings

The study found that participants who incorporated regular 30-40-minute sessions of this specialized stretching and meditation into their daily life, experienced significantly improved sleep and cardiovascular health, enhanced recovery from mental and physical stress and boosted positive feelings.

The Les Mills BODYFLOW and Heart Rate Variability Study measured a range of responses. The research team collected heart rate variability and survey data related to life satisfaction and sleep quality for this research.

The Study was presented by Associate Professor Jinger Gottschall at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference in 2020.


“The study findings show BODYFLOW is a useful active recovery solution for improving physical and mental health, with participants reporting feeling more positive, confident and motivated,” says Dr. Jinger Gottschall.

As Bryce Hastings, Head of Research at Les Mills points out, “We need to understand that we need recovery from life, not just exercise. This study demonstrates that we can enhance recovery from everyday stress and exhaustion through simple and targeted movement and mindfulness training in the form of BODYFLOW.”

He continues, â€śThe increased popularity of “recovery” is often misdirected; it assumes that only athletes and high-performance individuals need recovery. Thanks to the collective trauma our population has experienced in 2020, we are starting to understand that increasing positive emotional, mental and physiological transformation can occur with small but consistent changes that are accessible to anyone. We’re pleased to show that our evidence-backed workouts offer this.”

Central to the results was a statistically significant increase in HRV, an accurate measure of the body’s ability to regulate vital health factors such as anxiety and sleep.

As Professor Jinger Gottschall qualifies, “You don’t need to be a particular level of fitness to start BODYFLOW and by doing it on a regular basis, you can start enjoying the same benefits the study participants gained.”

Furthermore, many studies and research articles investigate sleep and sleep awareness with passive approaches as solutions. This research study shows that an active approach is beneficial and positive to participants, too.


1. Stretching and meditation improve heart rate variability, positive feelings and sleep quality in active adults. Gottschall et al. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise 2020, Vol 52 (5)

2. Heart rate variability in depressive and anxiety disorders Gorman & Sloan, PhD New York, NY, Am Heart J 2000;140:S77-83

3. Heart rate variability in adolescent females with anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder. Olsson et al, Acta Pædiatrica 2010 99, pp. 604–611

4.  Effects of Tai Chi exercise on heart rate variability. Cole et al. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2016, 29(59-63)

5. A Brief Review and Clinical Application of Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback in Sports, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Medicine.  Prinsloo et al.  The Physician and Sports medicine 2014 42(2):88-99.


Combatting the collective exhaustion, tension and sleeplessness we face as a nation is essential and 2020 is the year of discovery and action. BODYFLOW™ classes can positively affect lives and  can be accessed at most gyms across the country and via the Les Mills On Demand subscription platform, LMOD (14-day free trial, then $11.99 per month).


Les Mills International is the creator of 20 global group fitness programs, including BODYPUMP™ (weights), BODYCOMBAT™ (martial arts), RPM™ (indoor cycling), LES MILLS GRIT™ (30-minute high-intensity interval training) and the revolutionary immersive cycle experience, THE TRIP™. LES MILLS workouts are delivered by 140,000 certified instructors in 20,000 clubs across 100 countries and are available for at-home exercisers via the LES MILLS™ On Demand streaming platform. Every week, millions of people get fit with Les Mills.

About Les Mills Research

Significant investment in ongoing research is an important part of the Les Mills fitness philosophy. The research assures club partners and their members that LES MILLS group fitness programs are effective and safe. Les Mills partners with universities around the world to investigate relevant areas of exercise science and test the effects of its programs on key community health factors such as obesity and heart disease. Les Mills research is independent, peer-reviewed and industry-recognized.

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