Distress is an increasing public health problem. We aimed to investigate the effects of an Iyengar yoga program on perceived stress and psychological outcomes in distressed women and evaluated a potential dose-effect relationship. Seventy-two female distressed subjects were included into a 3-armed randomized controlled trial and allocated to yoga group 1 (n = 24) with twelve 90 min sessions over 3 months, yoga group 2 (n = 24) with 24 sessions over 3 months, or a waiting list control group (n = 24). The primary outcome was stress perception, measured by Cohen Stress Scale; secondary outcomes included state trait anxiety, depression, psychological and physical quality of life (QOL), profile of Mood States, well being, and bodily complaints. After three months, women in the yoga groups showed significant improvements in perceived stress (P = 0.003), state trait anxiety (P = 0.021 and P = 0.003), depression (P = 0.008), psychological QOL (P = 0.012), mood states being (P = 0.007), and bodily complaints well(P = 0.012) when compared to controls. Both yoga programs were similarly effective for these outcomes; however, compliance was better in the group with fewer sessions (yoga group 1). Dose effects were seen only in the analysis of group-independent effects for back pain, anxiety, and depression. These findings suggest that Iyengar yoga effectively reduces distress and improves related psychological and physical outcomes. Furthermore, attending twice-weekly yoga classes was not superior to once-weekly classes, as a result of limited compliance in the twice-weekly group.