A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety

Complement Ther Med. 2007 Jun;15(2):77-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2006.05.001. Epub 2006 Jun 21.


Objective: To compare yoga and relaxation as treatment modalities at 10 and 16 weeks from study baseline to determine if either of modality reduces subject stress, anxiety, blood pressure and improve quality of life.

Design: A randomised comparative trial was undertaken comparing yoga with relaxation.

Participants: One hundred and thirty-one subjects with mild to moderate levels of stress were recruited from the community in South Australia.

Interventions: Ten weekly 1- h sessions of relaxation or hatha yoga.

Main outcome measures: Changes in the State Trait Personality Inventory sub-scale anxiety, General Health Questionnaire and the Short Form-36.

Results: Following the 10 week intervention stress, anxiety and quality of life scores improved over time. Yoga was found to be as effective as relaxation in reducing stress, anxiety and improving health status on seven domains of the SF-36. Yoga was more effective than relaxation in improving mental health. At the end of the 6 week follow-up period there were no differences between groups in levels of stress, anxiety and on five domains of the SF-36. Vitality, social function and mental health scores on the SF-36 were higher in the relaxation group during the follow-up period.

Conclusion: Yoga appears to provide a comparable improvement in stress, anxiety and health status compared to relaxation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • South Australia
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Yoga*