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Yoga for anxiety and depression – a literature review

Chandra Nanthakumar (Faculty of Foundation Studies, HELP University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 18 February 2020

Issue publication date: 12 May 2020




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of classical yoga not only as a complementary therapy but also as a viable option in the management of anxiety and depression.


Papers were retrieved using a combination of databases including PubMed/MEDLINE and PsycINFO.


The findings revealed that the practice of yoga as complementary therapy and also as a stand-alone therapy is effective in managing and reducing anxiety and depression.

Research limitations/implications

All the studies reviewed in this paper were methodologically limited in terms of sample size, sample heterogeneity, yoga intervention styles, duration of practice and teaching methods. Further research is needed to address key areas such as how much yoga is needed per week, duration of each class and specifically the types of asanas and pranayama to practise to bring about change in the anxiety and depressive states.

Practical implications

This review has provided substantial insight to yoga as a complementary and/or stand-alone therapy for anxiety and depression which is much needed in this contemporary society. The Malaysian community especially teenagers and adults, should consider incorporating yoga as part of their daily routine to experience and reap its benefits. It is suggested that yoga be included as part of the physical education curriculum in learning institutions and as a recreational activity for staff in public and private organisations.


The findings of this review provide an avenue for victims to cope with and manage anxiety and depression through the practice of yoga.



Nanthakumar, C. (2020), "Yoga for anxiety and depression – a literature review", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 157-169.



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