If applied in right “doses”, yoga and breathing exercises can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety in both short and long terms, reveal new research.
Published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, the study from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) provided evidence that yoga can be a helpful complementary treatment for clinical depression or major depressive disorder.
To reach this conclusion, a group of 30 clinically depressed patients were randomly divided into two groups.
Both groups engaged in Iyengar yoga (founded by B.K.S. Iyengar) 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 spent 123 hours in sessions while the low-dose group spent 87 hours.
Results showed that within a month, both groups’ sleep quality significantly improved.
Tranquillity, positivity, physical exhaustion and symptoms of anxiety and depression significantly improved in both groups, as measured by several validated clinical scales
“Think of it this way, we give medications in different doses in order to enact their effects on the body to varying degrees. Here, we explored the same concept but used yoga. We call that a dosing study,” explained Chris Streeter, associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM.
Past yoga and depression studies have not really delved deeply into this.
“The data is crucial for accompanying investigations of underlying neurobiology that will help elucidate ‘how’ yoga works,” added study co-author Marisa M. Silveri, a neuroscientist at McLean Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
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.