Research: yoga & mental health

Hatha yoga & resistance exercise had positive effects on mental health & well-being in sedentary adults. 

  • Yoga improved the dimensions fatigue, self-esteem & quality of life (QoL).
  • Exercise improved body image.
  • Yoga & exercise reduced depression symptoms. (Taspinar 2014)

2-months of yoga classes lead to a significant reduction in perceived levels of anxiety & depression in women who suffer from anxiety disorders. (Javnbakht 2009)

….findings suggest yoga effectively reduces distress, improves related psychological & physical outcomes (Michelson 2010)

After 3 months of yoga, participants demonstrated significant improvements:

  • perceived stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • psychological quality of life (QoL)
  • mood & body image.
  • dose effects were seen in patients with back pain, anxiety & depression.

A survey completed by 4307 randomly selected yogis found yoga practice at home predicted health better than years of practice or class frequency. The survey also found different physical poses & yoga techniques may provide unique health benefits. (Ross 2010)

Beginner yogi’s who participated in a 6-week yoga program that incorporated breathing techniques, yoga postures, guided relaxation & meditation showed lower average levels of symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. (Campbell 2004)



Bussing A et al. Effects of Yoga on Mental & Physical Health: A Short Summary of Reviews. Evidence-Based Compl & Alt Med. 2012.
Campbell, DE, Moore, KA. 2004. Yoga as a preventative treatment for depression, anxiety & stress. Intl J of Yoga Therapy. 14:53-58
Chan W, Immink MA, Hillier S. Yoga & exercise for symptoms of depression & anxiety in people with poststroke disability: a pilot RCT. Altern Ther Health Med. 2012;18(3):34–43
Cohen D et al. Cerebral Blood Flow Effects of Yoga Training: Preliminary Evaluation of 4 Cases.  J of Alt & Comp Medicine. 2009
Newham JJ, Wittkowski A, Hurley J, et al. Effects of antenatal yoga on maternal anxiety & depression: a RCT. Depress Anxiety. 2014;31(8):631–640.
Satyapriya M, Nagarathna R, Padmalatha V, et al. Effect of integrated yoga on anxiety, depression & well being in normal pregnancy. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013;19(4):230–236.
Shapiro D, Cline K et al. Mood changes associated with Iyengar Yoga practices: a pilot studyIntl J of Yoga Therapy. 2004. 14:35-44.
Streeter CC et al. Effects of yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System, gamma-aminobutyric-acid & allostasis in epilepsy, depression & PTSD. 2012 May;78(5):571-9.
Streeter CC et al. 2010.  Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. J of alt & comp med. 16(11): 1145-52
Streeter CC et al. Yoga asana sessions increased brain GABA levels:  a pilot study J of alternative & complementary medicine. 2007. 13(4): 419-26
ADHD Jensen PS et al. The effects of yoga on the attention and behavior of boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). J Atten Disord. 2004;7(4):205–216.
SCHIZOPHRENIA Cramer H, Lauche R, Klose P, et al. Yoga for schizophrenia: a systematic review & meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 2013;13:32
SCHIZOPHRENIA Duraiswamy G, Thirthalli J, Nagendra HR, et al. Yoga therapy as an add-on treatment in the management of patients with schizophrenia—a RCT. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2007;116(3):226–232
SCHIZOPHRENIA Ikai S, Uchida H, Suzuki T, et al. Effects of yoga therapy on postural stability in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders: a single-blind RCT. J Psychiatr Res. 2013;47(11):1744–1750
SCHIZOPHRENIA Visceglia E, Lewis S. Yoga therapy as an adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia: a pilot RCT. J Alters Complement Med. 2011;17(7):601–607