Yoga eases symptoms of depression, study says

Yoga could help reduce symptoms of depression.

According to a study recently published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing together helped 30 research participants, who were 18-64 years old, “significantly” reduce symptoms of major depressive disorder.

Major depressive disorder is an ongoing, debilitating condition. And it’s common. Depression accounts for more years lost to disability than any other disease worldwide, the study says. The study further asserts that because up to 50 percent of individuals treated with antidepressant medications do not gain full remission, more research is needed to treat the condition and, ultimately, save lives.

Participants unrolled their yoga mats two or three times a week for 12 weeks. Classes followed an established progression: “seated or reclining postures for centering while the sutra translation and interpretation for that class were read; Sun Salutations; standing poses; twists, transition poses; inversions; deep relaxation (shavasana and ujjayi); and coherent breathing.”

But yoga doesn’t have to be an everyday practice to make an impact, according to the study (three classes a week proved too demanding for some participants).

“The practical findings for this integrative health intervention is that it worked for participants who were both on and off antidepressant medications, and for those time-pressed, the two times per week dose also performed well,” the study says.

Though the study supports using the powerful duo to treat MDD, it did have several limitations, such as a small sample size and no control group. Plus, the supportive group setting and interactions with staff could have influenced the drop in depressive symptoms.