Yoga for Psychiatry and Mental Health: An Ancient Practice with Modern Relevance
Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Scientific research studies on the psychophysiological benefits of yoga practice also date back to the early 20th century, and this growing body of research reveals that some of the most consistent and reproducible effects of yoga practice include stress reduction, emotion regulation, improved mood and well-being, improved cognitive functioning, enhanced respiratory function, improved physical flexibility, muscular strength and neuromuscular performance. These studies have provided hints as to the possible mechanisms of action of yoga in patient populations. Many of these outcomes, especially those relating to stress and mood, are influencing key risk factors or contributors to severity of a wide variety of disorders and these are likely to account for a significant part of yoga's therapeutic benefit. However, it is also believed that specific yoga practices may be of particular efficacy for specific disorders, e.g., the improvement in negative rumination in anxiety and depressive disorders with the practice of meditation. Furthermore, the overall enhancement of physical and mental fitness from yoga practice is likely to provide additional reduction in disease severity through a number of indirect pathways.

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Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels:
A Randomized Controlled MRS Study

Conclusions: The 12-week yoga intervention was associated with greater improvements in mood and anxiety than a metabolically matched walking exercise. This is the first study to demonstrate that increased thalamic GABA levels are associated with improved mood and decreased anxiety. It is also the first time that a behavioral intervention (i.e., yoga postures) has been associated with a positive correlation between acute increases in thalamic GABA levels and improvements in mood and anxiety scales. Given that pharmacologic agents that increase the activity of the GABA system are prescribed to improve mood and decrease anxiety, the reported correlations are in the expected direction. The possible role of GABA in mediating the beneficial effects of yoga on mood and anxiety warrants further study.

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Yoga for Anxiety and Depression
Harvard Health Publications
 

At the end of three months, women in the yoga group reported improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and well-being. Depression scores improved by 50%, anxiety scores by 30%, and overall well-being scores by 65%. Initial complaints of headaches, back pain, and poor sleep quality also resolved much more often in the yoga group than in the control group.

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Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder with Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing: A Randomized Controlled Dosing Study
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

During this 12-week intervention of yoga plus coherent breathing, depressive symptoms declined significantly in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in both the Hight Dose Group (HDG) and Low Dose Group (LDG). Both groups showed comparable compliance and clinical improvements, with more subjects in the HDG exhibiting BDI-II scores ≤10 at week 12.

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Yoga on our minds: a systematic review of yoga for neuropsychiatric disorders
Frontiers in Psychiatry

Our systematic review finds emerging scientific evidence to support a role for yoga in treating depression, sleep complaints consistent with both popular beliefs and biological studies, and having adjunctive value in schizophrenia and ADHD.

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5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health
Yoga Journal

It moves you from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, or from flight-or-flight to rest-and-digest. You typically have less anxiety and enter a more relaxed state. As soon as you start breathing deeply, you slow down out of fight or flight and calm your nervous system.

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Yoga as a Practice Tool
With a growing body of research supporting yoga's mental health benefits, psychologists are weaving the practice into their work with clients.
American Psychological Association

…What is perhaps unknown to those who consider yoga just another exercise form is that there is a growing body of research documenting yoga's psychological benefits. Several recent studies suggest that yoga may help strengthen social attachments, reduce stress and relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia. Researchers are also starting to claim some success in using yoga and yoga-based treatments to help active-duty military and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Yoga reduces stress; now it's known why
Science Daily

Researchers have shown that practicing a form of yogic meditation for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system's inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.

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