How Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health?

Chances are that you have a yoga studio or group in your town.

Yoga, a popular form of exercise, involves a variety of poses that improve strength and flexibility, and it turns out that it can also have a positive impact on your mental health.

Here, learn about the ways yoga can improve your mental and emotional well-being.


Treat Depression with Yoga

The research has shown that yoga can be an effective form of treatment for those who are suffering from depression. 

In a 2004 study in the journal Alternative Therapies, one group of participants attended two hour-long yoga sessions every week for five weeks, and a control group was placed on a wait list.(1)

At the end of the study period, those in the yoga group experienced significant reductions in symptoms of depression, as well as a decrease in negative moods and fatigue.

Study participants were young adults suffering from mild depression.


In a study of more severely depressed patients with a diagnosis of major depression, researchers for a 2005 edition of the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology compared a group of participants who did yoga in addition to taking anti-depressant medications to a group who only received medications.

The study lasted for eight weeks, and participants completed the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression at the beginning and end of the study.(2)

Both groups experienced a reduction in depression by the end of the study, but the effect was greater in those who did yoga.

Those in the yoga group were also more likely to enter into remission than were those who received only medication.


Yoga Improves Mood and Outlook

A yoga session or two could leave you in a better mood. 

Researchers for a 2014 edition of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy analyzed the impact of yoga on a group of college students.(3)

The students completed two yoga classes per week for eight weeks.

Before and after each yoga class, participants rated their moods.

After 14 of the 16 classes, participants had an increase in positive moods, and negative moods decreased after 15 of the 16 classes.


In a study of university employees, published in a 2011 edition of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, researchers analyzed the impact of yoga on moods and attitudes.(4)

For six weeks, one group of participants attended a weekly one-hour yoga class, and another group served as a control.

Moods and attitudes were measured at the beginning and end of the study.

Results showed that those in the yoga group experienced increased life purpose and satisfaction, as well as improved self-confidence.

They also reported increased feelings of;

  • clear-mindedness,
  • elation,
  • and energy compared to the control group.


Anxiety is Reduced with Yoga

Yoga could reduce your anxiety levels, even more so than aerobic exercise such as walking. 

In a 2010 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants without mental health disorders completed either yoga or a walking program three times per week for an hour.(5)

After 12 weeks, those who did yoga had a greater reduction in anxiety than did those in the walking group.


Additional research has shown that yoga can reduce anxiety. 

In 2009, researchers for the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills found that those who practiced yoga for two hours experienced a 14.7 percent decrease in anxiety levels.(6)

In a study of distressed women, researchers for a 2005 edition of the American Journal of Case Reports found that two yoga classes per week significantly reduced anxiety levels after three months.(7)


Yoga Improves Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms

Yoga can also serve as an intervention for those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress. 

Researchers for a 2013 publication of Military Medicine analyzed the impact of a six-week yoga intervention on a group of veterans.(8)

The veterans engaged in yoga twice per week, and they experienced an improvement in sleep quality and hyperarousal symptoms.


Additional research has shown that yoga can help individuals cope with the stress of a traumatic event. 

In a study in a 2007 edition of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, tsunami survivors completed a week-long yoga program, and they experienced considerable reductions in fear, anxiety, sadness, and disrupted sleep.(9)




Yoga could be a tool for treating symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and the research also suggests that it can be helpful for those suffering from anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, those who practice yoga tend to enjoy an improvement in mood.

With yoga showing so many mental health benefits, it is clear that this exercise is more than just a way to improve strength and flexibility; it can also benefit your psychological well-being.

Make time for one or two weekly yoga classes to enjoy this perk!

Researches and references