Research: WOOLERY and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 102


WOOLERY and colleagues, University of California, Los Angeles, USA,, have evaluated a yoga programme for young adults with depression.


Yoga practitioners often report that yoga has an uplifting effect, but scientific research on yoga and depression is limited. In this study, a short-term Iyengar yoga course was assessed for effects on the mood of young adults with mild depression.


28 volunteers aged 18 to 29 who presented with symptoms of mild depression that was untreated were randomly allocated to the yoga course or waiting list control. None of the subjects had previous yoga experience. Subjects in the yoga group attended two 1-hour yoga classes weekly for 5 weeks. The classes emphasized positions thought to alleviate depression, mainly back bends, standing poses, and inversions. Depression and anxiety were monitored using the Beck Depression Inventory and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Profile of Mood States, and morning cortisol levels.


The volunteers who participated in the yoga course showed significant decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety. These improvements started by the middle of the course and were sustained by the end. There was a trend for higher morning cortisol levels in the subjects on the yoga course as compared to controls.


It appears that yoga can positively influence mild depression. The results certainly warrant further studies using larger sample sizes and more complex design, in order to fully evaluate the potential emotional benefits of yoga.


Woolery A, Myers H, Sternlieb B, Zeltzer L. A yoga intervention for young adults with elevated symptoms of depression. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 10 (2): 60-63, Mar-Apr 2004.


The above research demonstrates the considerable prevalence and benefits of yoga practice.

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