The effect of yoga on symptoms of anxiety and depression is one of the most well-studied aspects of yoga’s effect on the body and mind. Although researchers are optimistic about the effectiveness of yoga in alleviating depression, a 2010 review of research says that studies to date, while suggestive, are not yet conclusive.
However, some research says that regular yoga practice (at least once weekly) helps to decrease levels of depression significantly. Twice weekly yoga practice for two months showed a significant decrease in levels of depression as well as levels of both state and trait anxiety.
Some studies also indicate that hatha yoga has a significant effect on lowering levels of anxiety and accompanying stress.
Hatha yoga encourages increased awareness of breath, internal centering, relaxation, and meditation. These strategies helped participants experience significantly lower stress and anxiety levels in addition to a higher quality of life scores.
A rigorous randomized control trial on yoga in literature comparing kundalini yoga with the relaxation response and mindfulness meditation in obsessive-compulsive disorder patients found a significant treatment difference in favor of kundalini yoga.
Moreover, a 2005 systematic review of the research on yoga and anxiety presented encouraging results, particularly with anxiety-related disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Similarly, a present study assessed state anxiety, depressive mood, and subjective well-being, and analyses of variance for repeated measures revealed mood improvement following yoga sessions. Other studies have shown that yoga practices reduce anxiety and depression, all the while improving well-being.
In terms of its effects on individuals in educational institutions, recent research has found that yoga benefits students, not only in reducing basal anxiety levels, but also in attenuating further increases in anxiety as they experience stressful situations like exams.
Additionally, differences in the mood before and after class of college students taking different courses (swimming, body conditioning, hatha yoga, fencing exercise, and lecture) were analyzed and results suggest that courses that meet four requirements involving aerobics, noncompetitiveness, predictability, and repetitiveness may reduce stress.