Fans of yoga claim that yoga is proven to provide anxiety relief. Evidence that yoga provides anxiety relief was scarce about 30 years ago. Given that an estimated 20 percent of Americans now take a pill for a psychological problem, anxiety relief is a significant selling point for yoga. However, is there anything more than anecdotal evidence to support this claim? The next time a yoga student asks you this question, here’s how you can respond. You can share a lot of research with students, friends, family, and yoga skeptics. Please bear in mind this subject is deep, and this article will scratch the surface. This is why so many resources and studies are provided.
The University of Rochester Study on Cancer, Sleep, and Yoga
Cancer patients or those who have previously had cancer are one of the groups of people most at risk for anxiety disorders. As many as 30 percent to 90 percent of people who have had cancer report having trouble sleeping at night; while some of this insomnia is due to cancer treatments, others have sleepless nights due to anxiety over their illness.
Coping with Bad Combinations
Anxiety and insomnia tend to form an evil alliance when we cope with challenging times. Researchers at the University of Rochester studied over 400 individuals in 12 different cities with a history of cancer who also had trouble sleeping. Half of them took yoga sessions, while the other half stuck with standard medical interventions for their sleeplessness. Those taking yoga classes were able to reduce how frequently they took a sleep aid by more than 20 percent while also reporting less daytime sleepiness and improved quality of sleep. This is just one of many studies that show yoga provides anxiety relief and relief from insomnia to anyone who wants to practice.
Harvard Review of Yoga Studies
In 2009, a Harvard Health Publications newsletter called the “Harvard Mental Health Letter” reviewed several studies involving yoga, anxiety, and depression. The newsletter article concluded that several studies from the past decade offer compelling evidence that yoga helps regulate the stress response system of the body, thereby reducing anxiety and the physical symptoms associated with it. Here are a few highlights from that newsletter article:
A German study in 2005 looked at women with depression and anxiety. After three months of yoga, these women reduced their self-reported depression by 50 percent and anxiety by 30 percent.
In a New Hampshire psychiatric hospital, schizophrenic patients who took yoga classes reported short-term improvements in anxiety, depression, hostility, and similar mental problems.
An Australian study wanted to see if yoga could improve PTSD symptoms in disabled Vietnam veterans. At the end of six weeks of yoga, the PTSD symptoms of veterans in the study went from “moderate to severe” to “mild to moderate.” By comparison, those in the control group reported no significant change in their symptoms.
The studies mentioned above demonstrate that yoga provides anxiety relief, and they are just the beginning of waves of new research-based proof showing that yoga helps reduce anxiety. Without a doubt, similar studies in the future will confirm what thousands of yoga practitioners have already experienced for themselves.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you interested in Meditation Teacher Training?
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen Your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
By Gail Boorstein Grossman
Effects of yoga on depressive symptoms in people with mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Jacinta Brinsley et al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2020
Terese Kochuvilayil, Ritin S. Fernandez, Lorna J. Moxham, Heidi Lord, Albara Alomari, Leanne Hunt, Rebekkah Middleton, Elizabeth J. Halcomb, COVID‐19: Knowledge, anxiety, academic concerns and preventative behaviors among Australian and Indian undergraduate nursing students: A cross‐sectional study, Journal of Clinical Nursing, 10.1111/jocn.15634, 0, 0, (2021).
Amit Baumel, John Torous, Stav Edan, John M. Kane, There is a non-evidence-based app for that: A systematic review and mixed methods analysis of depression- and anxiety-related apps that incorporate unrecognized techniques, Journal of Affective Disorders, 10.1016/j.jad.2020.05.011, (2020).
Gustav Jonsson, Lisa Franzén, Markus B.T. Nyström, Paul A. Davis, Integrating Yoga with Psychological Group-Treatment for Mixed Depression and Anxiety in Primary Healthcare: An Explorative Pilot Study, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101250, (101250), (2020).
Danielle C Mathersul, Carla M Eising, Danielle D DeSouza, David Spiegel, Peter J Bayley, Brain and Physiological Markers of Autonomic Function Are Associated With Treatment-Related Improvements in Self-Reported Autonomic Dysfunction in Veterans With Gulf War Illness: An Exploratory Pilot Study, Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 10.1177/2164956120922812, 9, (216495612092281), (2020).
Gülyeter Erdoğan Yüce, Gamze Muz, Effect of yoga‐based physical activity on perceived stress, anxiety, and quality of life in young adults, Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 10.1111/ppc.12484, 56, 3, (697-704), (2020).
Vladimir Trkulja, Hrvoje Barić, Current Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: An Evidence-Based Review, Anxiety Disorders, 10.1007/978-981-32-9705-0_22, (415-449), (2020).
Marco Maiello, Meredith J. Ward, Eric Bui, Mind–Body Treatments for Anxiety Disorders, Clinical Handbook of Anxiety Disorders, 10.1007/978-3-030-30687-8_14, (269-282), (2020).
A scoping review of systematic reviews of complementary medicine for musculoskeletal and mental health conditions. Ava Lorenc et al., BMJ Open, 2018
CBT, medication, and the combination are effective for childhood anxiety
Lynn M Hana et al., Evid Based Ment Health, 2019
Role of maternal mental health disorders on stillbirth and infant mortality risk: a protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. Akilew A. Adane et al., BMJ Open, 2020
Yoga practice in the UK: a cross-sectional survey of motivation, health benefits, and behaviors.
Tina Cartwright et al., BMJ Open, 2020
Yoga and mindfulness for anxiety and depression and the role of mental health professionals: a literature review. Nicole Butterfield, The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 2016
Gestational Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Allergic Conditions
Endocrinology Advisor, 2020
Long-term Outcome of Cognitive Behavior Therapy Clinical Trials in Central Scotland
Professor Tom Walley, Clinical Governance: An International Journal, 2006