Yoga as an Intervention for the Reduction of Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review

Front Pediatr. 2020 Mar 13:8:78. doi: 10.3389/fped.2020.00078. eCollection 2020.


Purpose: The purpose of this review is to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of yoga for the reduction of symptoms of anxiety and depression in youth. To our knowledge, there are no systematic reviews to date looking at the reduction of symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Methods: Numerous scientific databases were searched up to November 2018 for experimental studies assessing changes in symptoms of anxiety and/or depression in youths following yoga interventions. Quality and level of evidence were assessed, and information was synthesized across studies. Results: Twenty-seven studies involving youth with varying health statuses were reviewed. Intervention characteristics varied greatly across studies revealing multiple factors that may impact intervention efficacy, however 70% of the studies overall showed improvements. For studies assessing anxiety and depression, 58% showed reductions in both symptoms, while 25% showed reductions in anxiety only. Additionally, 70% of studies assessing anxiety alone showed improvements and 40% of studies only assessing depression showed improvements. Conclusion: The studies reviewed, while of weak to moderate methodological quality, showed that yoga, defined by the practice of postures, generally leads to some reductions in anxiety and depression in youth regardless of health status and intervention characteristics.

Keywords: adolescent; anxiety disorder; child; complementary therapies; depressive disorder; exercise; mental health; yoga.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review