Is Hatha Yoga a Cure for Depression?
According to the biggest study ever to investigate the link between exercise and the mental health disorder, yoga can ease depression symptoms.
It was found that more than half of sufferers who take a weekly yoga class experience a minimum 50 percent reduction in their depression symptoms, the research added.
They also reported an improved social functioning as well as overall health.
It was found in a previous review, that the breathing exercises involved in yoga, change the hormone levels in the body, which leads to reduced stress and anxiety.
Researchers from across the US analyzed the effect of a particular type of yoga, known as Hatha, on 63 patients who were suffering from severe depression.
Results, published in Psychological Medicine, were compared against 59 severely depressed patients who took health education classes.
All of the participants were taking antidepressants.
Researchers analyzed for the patients for ten weeks, followed by two follow-up periods at three and six months.
No effect was seen at ten weeks, but at six months, 51 percent of yoga patients reported to see at least a 50 percent improvement in their symptoms versus 31 percent of those just taking the health education classes.
Study author Dr. Lisa Uebelacker, from Brown University, said: ‘We hypothesized that yoga participants would show lower depression severity over time, as well as better social and role functioning, better general health perceptions and physical functioning, and less physical pain about the control group.
“We found that yoga did indeed have an impact on depression symptoms.”
This study, in particular, did not specify why yoga reduces depression, but a review of 15 studies that was conducted by King’s College London earlier this year found that women who suffer from premenstrual tension have a significant reduction in ailments such as anxiety, stress and mood swings when they take up yoga.
Yoga also cuts the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and may also improve concentration by making the subjects focus on breathing and poses, the researchers said.