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Yoga is effective to reduce the symptoms of depression

People suffering from depression should practice yoga as a supplement to traditional therapies, as the practice appears to reduce symptoms of the condition, according to a new study. The research focused on the acceptability and antidepressant effects of hatha yoga, the branch of yoga that emphasizes physical exercises, along with meditative and breathing exercises, to improve well-being. In the study, 23 male veterans took two weekly yoga classes for eight weeks. On a 1-10 scale, the average enjoyment of the yoga classes for these veterans was a 9.4. All participants said they would recommend the program to other veterans. Most importantly, participants with elevated depression scores for the yoga program after the eight weeks had a significant reduction in depression symptoms.

Another more specific version of hatha yoga commonly practiced in the West is Bikram yoga, also called heated yoga. The researcher studied Bikram yoga on 52 women aged 25-45 years. Only more than half were assigned for two weekly classes for eight weeks. The rest were told that there were waiting lists and that they were being used as a control condition. All participants were tested for depression levels at the start of the study, as well as weeks three, six and nine. The researchers found that eight weeks of bikram yoga significantly reduced symptoms of depression compared to the control group.

In the same session, data from a pilot study of 29 adults was presented who, after eight weeks of Bikram yoga at least twice a week, showed significantly reduced symptoms of depression, and improved other secondary measures, including quality of life, optimism. and cognitive and physical functioning.

These studies suggest that yoga-based interventions hold promise for depressed mood and are feasible for patients with chronic, treatment-resistant depression.