Yoga and Anxiety

Different relaxation and meditation techniques may have different effects on relieving anxiety. Some techniques may induce better results than others. For example, researchers in India compared the effects of two yoga relaxation techniques on memory and state anxiety among 57 male volunteers (Subramanya and Telles, 2009). One yoga technique involving cycles of yoga postures and supine rest is called “cyclic meditation (CM)”.

The other technique is relaxation in the corpse posture called “shavasana”. The study showed that cyclical combination of yoga postures and supine rest in cyclic meditation induced improvement in memory scores immediately after the practice (Subramanya and Telles, 2009). Cyclic meditation also caused reduction in state anxiety. The effects of cyclic meditation were more significant than rest in a classical yoga relaxation posture (shavasana).

Yogic breathing techniques such as Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) may help balance the autonomic nervous system and ease psychologic and stress-related disorders (Brown and Gerbarg, 2005). Yogic breathing is also called “pranayama”, and yoga postures are called “asanas”. They are often combined with meditation.

Sudarshan Kriya Yoga has been found to have low-risk and low-cost that may benefit many disorders including stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, stress-related medical illnesses, substance abuse, and rehabilitation of criminal offenders (Brown and Gerbarg, 2005). Such yoga techniques may improve the overall well-being, mood, mental focus, and the ability of stress tolerance. A 30-minute practice every day has been suggested to have good results.

In a program called “Siddha Samadhi Yoga”, meditation is connected to “pranayama”, or breathing exercises. A study done in Brazil investigated 22 volunteers with anxiety complaints (Kozasa et al., 2008). Fourteen of the participants attended the yoga group, and 8 were in a waiting-list or control group. The volunteers were evaluated before attending the yoga program and 1 month after it. The study found that in comparison with the control group, the yoga group had significant lower scores on anxiety, depression, and tension, with higher scores in overall well-being (Kozasa et al., 2008).


Brown, R. P. and Gerbarg, P. L. (2005) Sudarshan Kriya Yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression. Part II–clinical applications and guidelines. J Altern Complement Med 11, 711-717.

Kozasa, E. H., Santos, R. F., et al. (2008) Evaluation of Siddha Samadhi Yoga for anxiety and depression symptoms: a preliminary study. Psychol Rep 103, 271-274.

Subramanya, P. and Telles, S. (2009) Effect of two yoga-based relaxation techniques on memory scores and state anxiety. Biopsychosoc Med 3, 8.

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