Scientific studies already support yoga practice as a means to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
In a new study, researchers found evidence that yoga and breathing exercises can reduce depression and anxiety in both the short term—with each session as well as cumulatively in the longer term, over three months.
these findings suggest yoga can be a helpful complementary treatment for clinical depression or major depressive disorder.
The research was conducted by a team at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).
Depression, a condition that affects one of every seven adults in the U.S. at some point in their lives, is treated with a variety of modalities, including counseling (especially through cognitive-behavioral therapy) and medication.
Research has shown combining therapy and medication has greater success than either treatment alone.
Although studies with more participants would be helpful in further investigating its benefits, this small study indicates adding yoga to the prescription may be helpful.
In the study, a group of 30 depressed patients was divided into two groups. Both groups engaged in lyengar yoga and coherent breathing with the only difference being the number of instructional and home sessions in which each group participated.
Over three months, the high-dose group (HDG) spent 123 hours in sessions while the low-dose group (LDG) spent 87 hours.
The team found that within a month, both groups’ sleep quality was strongly improved.
Tranquility, positivity, physical exhaustion and symptoms of anxiety and depression were strongly improved in both groups.
The study provides evidence-based data that is helpful in getting more individuals to try yoga as a strategy for improving their health and well-being.
These data are crucial for accompanying investigations of underlying neurobiology that will help elucidate ‘how’ yoga works.
One author of the study is Chris Streeter, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM.
The study is published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice.
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