Ask Dr. Nandi: Should you do yoga to treat depression?

(WXYZ) - Yoga has been touted to improve several health conditions, but is it a potential treatment for depression?

I’m a huge fan of yoga so am happy to share the results of this new study from the University of California–San Francisco. 

38 participants diagnosed with mild to moderate depression took part. Half of the group took classes learning the history of yoga while the rest practiced Hatha Yoga. Everyone met twice a week for 90 minutes.

After 8 weeks, the group who practiced yoga had significantly improved their depression symptoms compared to the group taking the classes.

I’ve practiced Hatha Yoga and it’s a style that focuses on body posture, breathing and relaxation techniques.  The goal is to achieve a calm and balanced mind. Each time the study group practiced yoga, they started with 20 minutes of breathing exercises, followed by 50 minutes of poses, ending with 15 minutes of deep relaxation. Yoga has therapeutic elements and just talking about it makes me feel relaxed!

Yoga can reduce your stress levels, blood pressure and improve your cardiovascular condition. I strongly believe in yoga and I encourage you to give it a try.

Partha’s RX
1.     There are many styles and levels of activity that you can choose from.  Almost anyone can participate so experiment with different types.
2.     If you have an injury or medical condition, you can try slower classes that focus on alignment like Viniyoga or Iyengar yoga.  Of course speak to your doctor first before attending a session.
3.     Always listen to your body.  If you can’t do a pose, don’t force yourself.  Instead ask your teacher how to modify it.
4.     Never compare yourself to others.  Always go at your own pace and you’ll soon see improvements.

If you suffer with severe depression, you can try Iyengar yoga – it focuses on breath control and precision in postures.  Another study found this yoga lessoned participant’s major depression.

However you should not rely on yoga alone. Discuss medications and psychotherapy with your doctor if you have depression that interferes with enjoying life. 

Print this article Back to Top