Researchers say a consistent practice reduces symptoms over time.
Research is finally catching up with what many practitioners believed all along: Yoga helps lessen the symptoms of depression.
Multiple studies backing this theory were presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C., this week.
New scientific data
“Yoga has become so popular in the West, and everyone who practices knows it’s beneficial, but there hasn’t been a lot of scientific backing yet,” says Lindsey Hopkins, Ph.D., of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She chaired a session on yoga and depression at the event.
One of her presented studies focused on the acceptability and antidepressant benefits of Hatha yoga among 23 male veterans. They took twice-weekly yoga classes for eight weeks. Participants with higher depression scores before the study had a significant reduction in symptoms at the end. Plus, all in the group said they would recommend the program to other vets.
Lindsey was also a co-author on another study with Sarah Shallit of Alliant University in San Francisco. This one followed women ages 25–45 who did twice-weekly Bikram yoga classes for eight weeks. At the end, participants had significantly reduced symptoms of depression compared with the control group.
Focus on consistency over time
More promising results
Read more: Four Yoga Poses to Try Right Now
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Mary Dunklin is a writer and editor who specializes in family, fitness and travel. She is also a registered yoga teacher and personal trainer.