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This page is still a work in progress, we endeavour to update it as regularly as we can. If you have some research you'd like to share with us, please get in touch!

Yoga has a positive impact on the body and brain

- Amygdala – grey matter density reduced in yogis, less reactive to negative stiumli = less fear/stress

- Hippocampus – larger in yogis, especially left side which is associated with logical, analytical thinking (dealing with stress and processing trauma memories)

- Medial pre-frontal cortex – more active (better top down cognitive influence over emotions – inhibiting, selecting and evaluating responses etc.)

- Dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex – less active during emotional or taxing tasks (neurocognitive resources efficiency – resolving emotional challenges without taxing cognitive resources) (for the four points above)

- Reduces the amino acid GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) which is correlated with reducing mood disorders

- Improves vagal tone (as indicated by heart rate variability measures)– better emotion regulation, easier access to parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) system

- Lowers cortisol levels - antidepressant effect

- Acts as an analgesic = good for physical and emotional pain

- Has a positive impact on many stress related physiological markers: “Interventions that included yoga asanas were associated with reduced evening cortisol, waking cortisol, ambulatory systolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, high frequency heart rate variability, fasting blood glucose, cholesterol and low density lipoprotein, compared to active control”


Yoga research around mental health is preliminary, but promising

Due to the amount of research out there, we have mainly shared large review papers that investigate the findings of several different papers and draw conclusions.

- Systematic review of yoga for stress in healthy adults – Wang and Szabo 2020

- Mindfulness and yoga for psychological trauma, review – Taylor et al, 2020 ("Interventions of 8 weeks or longer lead to better outcomes")

- Review of yoga for psychological symptoms following trauma -  Nguyen-Feng et al., 2019

- Considerations for trauma informed yoga – a qualitative study with experts in the field – Justice & Brems, 2018

- Review of randomised control trials on yoga for PTSD - Cramer et al., 2018

- Yoga for chronic / severe / ‘treatment-resistant’ mental health problems – Vollbehr et al., 2018

- Meta-analysis of randomised control trials for PTSD – Gallegos et al., 2017

- Meta-analysis of physiological markers of stress reduction after yoga or mindfulness – Pascal et al., 2017

- Yoga and mental health review - Klatte et al., 2016

- Yoga review – Field, 2016

- Yoga for trauma - Macy et al., 2015 (“Evidence regarding yoga as an intervention for the effects of trauma as well as the mental health symptoms and illnesses often associated with trauma is encouraging but preliminary”)

-Effects of yoga on mental and physical health review – Bussing et al., 2012

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