Research: WOOLERY and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 113


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


People who practise yoga often report that it has an uplifting effect, but research on yoga and depression is scarce. The aim of this controlled study was to examine the effects of a course of Iyengar yoga on a group of mildly depressed young adults.


28 volunteers who presented at the campus recreation centre with mild depression, who were not receiving medication for this and who had no previous experience of yoga, were divided into yoga group and waiting list controls. The subjects in the yoga group attended a twice-weekly one-hour Iyengar yoga class for 5 weeks. Outcome measures included Beck Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Profile of Mood States, and morning cortisol levels.


The volunteers who attended the yoga course experienced significant decreases in self-reported symptoms of depression and trait anxiety. These effects emerged by the middle of the yoga course and were maintained by the end. Changes also were observed in acute mood, with subjects reporting decreased levels of negative mood and fatigue following yoga classes. Finally, there was a trend for higher morning cortisol levels in the yoga group by the end of the yoga course, compared to controls.


These results suggest that yoga asanas could potentially be useful in the management of depression. More studies with larger groups and more complex study designs are necessary.


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

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