A yoga intervention for young adults with elevated symptoms of depression.
CONTEXT: Yoga teachers and students often report that yoga has an uplifting effect on their moods, but scientific research on yoga and depression is limited.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of a short-term Iyengar yoga course on mood in mildly depressed young adults.
DESIGN: Young adults pre-screened for mild levels of depression were randomly assigned to a yoga course or wait-list control group.
SETTING: College campus recreation center.
RESULTS: Subjects who participated in the yoga course demonstrated 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 findings provide suggestive evidence of the utility of yoga asanas in improving mood and support the need for future studies with larger samples and more complex study designs to more fully evaluate the effects of yoga on mood disturbances.