Researchers concluded that both practicing yoga and learning yoga theory are effective in reducing stress and symptoms of anxiety.
Yoga reduced anxiety for people with state, trait, and performance anxiety as well as for people with PTSD. The breath work practice, meditation practice, and learning about yoga practices decreased feelings of anxiety, whereas the physical postures decreased the physical symptoms of tension and anxiety. Given that yoga was found to be as effective as conventional relaxation techniques in reducing stress and anxiety, people with anxiety may wish to also consider the unconventional relaxation techniques of yoga.
Researchers (Descilo, Khalsa, Kozasa, Telles) speculated that devoting a large portion of time to focusing on the concentrated breath work aspects of a yoga practice would substantially aid in the reduction of symptoms of anxiety. After practicing yoga for 2 months, participants in the Khalsa study reported an increase in self-confidence and clarity. Descilo found that yoga breath work was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Attending three classes a week for 8 weeks, regardless of the physical intensity of the practice, improved physical strength, increased flexibility, and reduced physical tension in the participants. Researchers credited the decrease in anxiety scores to yoga’s ability to increase body awareness (including body tension) and foster a sense of confidence and control over the body.
Subramanya and Telles compared the effects of cyclic meditation (yoga postures followed by supine rest) and supine rest (a relaxing yoga posture such as shavasana) on levels of anxiety and memory scores. A short yoga practice of cyclic meditation (22-30 minutes) was significantly more effective in increasing memory scores and almost four times as effective in decreasing anxiety as the same amount of supine rest .