A very informative study has recently found some strong evidence suggesting that yoga can improve mood and decrease anxiety. This study actually compared yoga to walking and found more benefit from participating in yoga. The conclusion drawn by the authors was that the yoga improvement was due to the external actions of the body during yoga. I would wonder if the benefits are from the body aspects of yoga or if indeed the internal components (mindfulness, attention, focus, etc.) may have had an impact. My guess is that the benefit of yoga is not only due to the external behavior, but by the also the internal processes required during yoga. Whether the benefit in this study was due to the physical activity or the internal activity, it is important to recognize the strong link between yoga and increased mood. Based on this study an individual who is suffering from depression or anxiety may want to seriously consider yoga as a part of their schedule.

Streeter, C. C., Whitfield, T. H., Owen, L., Rein, T., Karri, S. K., Yakhkind, A., & … Jensen, J. (2010). Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 16(11), 1145-1152. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0007