As it turns out, yoga can do a lot more than just decorate your Instagram feed. Findings from Boston University School of Medicine point to yoga as an alternative to pharmaceutical treatments for depression.
Almost half of individuals using antidepressants for Major Depressive disorder (MDD) do not achieve full remission. Researchers suggest yoga-based therapy as a promising treatment to fill the gap. The study found that study participants who participated in at least two 90-minute yoga classes per week had a significant decrease in depressive symptoms.
The study looked specifically into a technique called “Iyengar yoga” that focuses on precise alignment and breathing exercises. Researchers paired Iyengar yoga positions with transitions into periods of relaxation to enhance the potential relief effects for patients with MDD.
The research, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, randomized study participants with MDD into a high-dose group (three classes a week) and a low-dose group (two classes a week) for a 12-week yoga schedule. Both groups showed improvements in their depression symptoms, with subjects in the high-dose group testing higher in clinical improvements. Researchers used the Beck Depression Inventory-II as well as the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale to track the progress of participants.
With this new information, those with Major Depressive Disorder may be able to ease their symptoms without the side effects of pharmaceutical treatments.
In a statement, the researchers concluded that the study, “supports the use of a yoga and coherent breathing intervention in major depressive disorder in people who are not on antidepressants and in those who have been on a stable dose of antidepressants and have not achieved a resolution of their symptoms.”
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Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.