The Effects of Yoga and Buddhist Counseling on Anxiety

Educational programs for lifestyle modification and stress management can be very effective for remarkably reducing anxiety in a period as short as 10 days. Researchers in India examined the short-term impacts of a lifestyle intervention based on yoga on anxiety in normal and diseased subjects (Gupta et al., 2006). The brief but comprehensive intervention included asanas, pranayama, relaxation techniques, group support, and individualized advice. The subjects were taught about the philosophy of yoga, the place of yoga in daily life, meditation, stress management, nutrition, and knowledge about the illness.

In the study, the subjects had history of various diseases such as hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD), diabetes mellitus, and psychiatric disorders including depression and anxiety (Gupta et al., 2006).  Many of them also had gastrointestinal problems such as non-ulcer dyspepsia, duodenal ulcers, irritable bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, chronic constipation, and thyroid disorders including hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

The researchers measured anxiety scores on the first and last day of the program. The results showed that scores of both state and trait anxiety were decreased (Gupta et al., 2006). In addition, the anxiety levels were remarkably improved among the patients of CAD, obesity, and psychiatric disorders. The study indicates that comprehensive lifestyle programs such as the one based on yoga may provide benefits even in a relatively short period of time.

Buddhist counseling interventions may be another choice for patients suffering from anxiety. In a study done in Thailand, twenty-one patients participated in two sessions of Buddhist counseling based on the Buddhist principle (Rungreangkulkij and Wongtakee, 2008). At the 1-month follow-up, the study revealed that the scores measuring trait anxiety were lower among the participants.

In addition, the patients practiced mindfulness could accept unpleasant situations more calmly (Rungreangkulkij and Wongtakee, 2008). Among them, sixteen patients needed lower doses of anti-anxiety medications, while two patients stopped using any medications. These findings show that counseling based on Buddhist principles may benefit patients with anxiety.


Gupta, N., Khera, S., et al. (2006) Effect of yoga based lifestyle intervention on state and trait anxiety. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 50, 41-47.

Rungreangkulkij, S. and Wongtakee, W. (2008) The psychological impact of Buddhist counseling for patients suffering from symptoms of anxiety. Arch Psychiatr Nurs 22, 127-134.

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