Yoga means to yoke or to join together, coming from Sanskrit in Hindu astrology. A description of the physical Yoga postures was found in the Yoga Sutras, which was written in 3,000 BC by Patajali, a Sanskrit scholar and an Indian physician. Yoga practice typically combines stretching exercises and different poses with deep breathing and meditation.
Yoga is effective for psychological and pain syndromes, muscular and neurological disorders, and autoimmune and immune syndromes. Yoga has also been noted to reduce anxiety and depression (Yoga; 2009, Yoga 2010, Yoga 2011).
The beneficial effects of Yoga for well-being are mediated its stimulatory effect on the parasympathetic nerves and inhibitory effect on stress responses (Gokal et al. 2007).
A recent study showed that Yoga stimulates oxytocin (OXT) release (Bangalore et al. 2012). As the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) are activated by Yoga (Froeliger et al. 2012), it is conceivable that Yoga activates the PFC and ACC, which in turn stimulates hypothalamic OXT release. This results in reduced CRF expression and HPA axis activity, leading to the attenuation of stress responses.