Yoga can reduce symptoms of anxiety and generally enhance mood, according to a recent study.
In this eight-week study, 52 healthy women were assigned to either a yoga group (60-minute sessions twice a week) or a control group. (People in the control group were told to not engage in yoga but to maintain their usual level of physical activity.)
The researchers assessed the effects of the yoga on heart rate variability (the beat-to-beat changes in heart rate), perceived stress, depression and state and trait anxiety. State anxiety describes the temporary unpleasant feelings that come up when confronted with a stressful situation, demand, event, etc. Once the threat goes away, so do the feelings. Trait anxiety is more of a personality characteristic and refers to the different ways people perceive threats and experience state anxiety.
While heart rate variability, perceived stress, depression or trait anxiety did not change in either the yoga or control groups after eight weeks, the women in the yoga group did experience a significant reduction in state anxiety.
Chu IH, et al. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Dec;21(12):789-95.