Credit: © Coka / Fotolia

Credit: © Coka / Fotolia

Yoga helps reduce symptoms of depression

Yoga helps reduce symptoms of depression, according to research to be presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that spans across many millenniums. It is great to strengthen the body and relax the mind, but that is only scratching the surface of what yoga truly is about.

The real purpose of yoga is to create harmony between the body, mind and breath with breathing exercise, yoga poses, and meditation.

Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, and many new yoga practitioners cite stress-reduction and other mental health concerns as their primary reason for practicing,” said Lindsey Hopkins, PhD, of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who chaired a session highlighting research on yoga and depression. “But the empirical research on yoga lags behind its popularity as a first-line approach to mental health.”

The research focused on the effects of hatha yoga on depression. They found that patients who participated in this type of yoga had a reduction in depression symptoms.

Another study that focused on another type of yoga called Bikram yoga showed that participants who engaged in this type also showed reduction in depression symptoms.

The more the participants attended yoga classes, the lower their depressive symptoms at the end of the study,” said Maren Nyer, PhD of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Hopkins noted that the research on yoga as a treatment for depression is still preliminary. “At this time, we can only recommend yoga as a complementary approach, likely most effective in conjunction with standard approaches delivered by a licensed therapist,” she said. “Clearly, yoga is not a cure-all. However, based on empirical evidence, there seems to be a lot of potential.”

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1. “Yoga Effective at Reducing Symptoms of Depression.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 3 Aug. 2017.

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