Scientists decode how yoga helps combat depression

Boston – Yoga has been pegged as one of the best alternative treatment option for a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, anger, hostility and fatigue and now a new study claims to reveal how yoga helps combat depression.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine in the US claim that participating in yoga and deep breathing classes twice a week along with home practice can effectively help reduce the symptoms of depression.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is common, recurrent, chronic and disabling. Due in part to its prevalence, depression is globally responsible for more years lost to disability than any other disease, researchers said. Up to 40 per cent of individuals treated with antidepressant medications for MDD do not achieve full remission.

Researchers revealed that for their study they resorted to lyengar yoga which is known for its emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture and breath control. Researchers randomised individuals with MDD to the high dose group, three 90-minute classes a week along with home practice, or the low dose group, two 90-minute classes a week, plus home practice. They observed that both groups had significant decreases in their depressive symptoms and no significant differences in compliance.

Although a greater number of subjects in the high dose group had less depressive symptoms, the researchers believe attending twice weekly classes (plus home practice) may constitute a less burdensome but still effective way to gain the mood benefits from the intervention.

According to scientists compared with mood altering medications, this intervention has the advantages of avoiding additional drug side effects and drug interactions.

Regular practice of yoga has been associated with a variety of health benefits, including improved flexibility, reduced risk of heart problems, preventing IBS and other digestive problems, boosing immune system, and weight loss, etc. The new findings have been published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.