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Introduction: Previously, outpatient Yoga programs for patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) lasting several months have been found to reduce pain, analgesic requirement and disability, and improve spinal mobility. This study evaluated changes in pain, anxiety, depression and spinal mobility for CLBP patients on short-term, residential Yoga and physical exercise programs, including comprehensive yoga lifestyle modifications. Methods: A seven day randomized control single blind active study in an residential Holistic Health Centre in Bangalore, India, assigned 80 patients (37 female, 43 male) with CLBP to yoga and physical exercise groups. The Yoga program consisted of specific asanas and pranayamas for back pain, meditation, yogic counselling, and lectures on yoga philosophy. The control group program included physical therapy exercises for back pain, and matching counselling and education sessions. Results: Group x time interactions (p < 0.05) and between group differences (p < 0.05) were significant in all variables. Both groups' scores on the numerical rating scale for pain reduced significantly, 49% in Yoga (p < 0.001, ES = 1.62), 17.5% in controls (p = 0.005, ES = 0.67). State anxiety (STAI) reduced 20.4% (p < 0.001, ES = 0.72) and trait anxiety 16% (p < 0.001, ES = 1.09) in the yoga group. Depression (BDI) decreased in both groups, 47% in yoga (p < 0.001, ES = 0.96,) and 19.9% in controls (p < 0.001, ES = 0.59). Spinal mobility ('Sit and Reach' instrument) improved in both groups, 50%, in yoga (p < 0.001 ES = 2.99) and 34.6% in controls (p < 0.001, ES = 0.81). Conclusion: Seven days intensive residential Yoga program reduces pain, anxiety, and depression, and improves spinal mobility in patients with CLBP more effectively than physiotherapy exercises. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.