Home mental fitness How Yoga Helps with Depression and Anxiety

How Yoga Helps with Depression and Anxiety

by Marianne Navada

If yoga were a pill to alleviate depression and anxiety, is it effective and how much of it do we need? A “dosing study” from the Boston University School of Medicine tries to answer this question.  

The Study

The paper studied 30 clinically depressed patients for 12 weeks. The researchers divided the participants into 2 groups. One group got a high dose of yoga, which received 6 hours and 30 minutes of yoga and breath work a week for the duration of the study. In contrast, the low dose group received 4 hours and 30 minutes. Both groups did Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing.

Participants were given surveys before the program started and were followed up on the 4th, 8th, and 12th week of the research. 

Effectiveness and Results 

To test improvement, participants answered surveys clinically used to test positivity, anxiety and depression levels, sleep quality, and effects of exercise on how we feel. “Both interventions reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and increased feelings of positivity.” The high dose group, however, showed greater overall improvement.

To recommend yoga clinically, researchers want a better understanding of the effects of the various types of yoga. Does a vinyasa practice provide the same effect as hatha yoga? There is also the element of time as a dosage. Is there an optimum amount of yoga we need a day? Do we experience less psychological depression the more yoga with do over a longer period of time? This study deals with consistent time commitment for 12 weeks. It would be interesting to understand the long term psychological and emotional effects of a consistent practice.

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