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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 408727, 9 pages
Research Article

Iyengar Yoga for Distressed Women: A 3-Armed Randomized Controlled Trial

1Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Centre, 10098 Berlin, Germany
2 Department of Internal and Complementary Medicine Immanuel Hospital Berlin, 14109 Berlin, Germany
3National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
4Karl und Veronica Carstens-Foundation, 45276 Essen, Germany
5Department of Psychiatry, University of Salzburg, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
6Chair of Quality of Life, Spirituality and Coping, Center of Integrative Medicine, University Witten/Herdecke, 58313 Witten-Herdecke, Germany
7Chair of Integrative Medicine, University Duisburg-Essen, 45276 Essen, Germany

Received 25 May 2012; Revised 7 August 2012; Accepted 9 August 2012

Academic Editor: Shirley Telles

Copyright © 2012 Andreas Michalsen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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 ( ) with twelve 90 min sessions over 3 months, yoga group 2 ( ) with 24 sessions over 3 months, or a waiting list control group ( ). 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 ( ), state trait anxiety ( and ), depression ( ), psychological QOL ( ), mood states being ( ), and bodily complaints well( ) 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.