Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University conducted a systematic review and critical appraisal of the effect of yoga on stress management in healthy adults.

A systematic literature search was performed to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and clinical controlled trials (CCTs) that assessed the effects of yoga on stress management in healthy adults. Selected studies were classified according to the types of intervention, duration, outcome measures, and results. They were also qualitatively assessed based on Public Health Research, Education and Development standards.

The systematic review was based on eight RCTs and CCTs that indicated a positive effect of yoga in reducing stress levels or stress symptoms. However, most of the studies had methodological problems, in that the intervention duration was short and limited follow-up data was available.

The analysts concluded that although the review revealed positive effects of yoga on stress reduction in healthy adult populations, the result should be interpreted with caution, due to the small number of studies and the associated methodological problems. Further studies to ascertain yoga's long-term effects and the underlying biological mechanisms leading to its stress reduction effect should be conducted.

Citation:  Chong CS, Tsunaka M, Tsang HW, Chan EP, Cheung WM.  Effects of yoga on stress management in healthy adults: A systematic review. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2011 Jan-Feb; 17 (1): pages 32-8.