Yoga may be able to ease some of the symptoms of depression, according to the largest ever study into this issue.

The investigation into the link between yoga and depression focused on whether the regular practice of hatha yoga could aid the success of depression treatments. The researchers found that the benefits of yoga for depression were less pronounced in the early stages of treatment, but that there is evidence yoga can help improve depression symptoms long-term.


The Study

This US-based investigation was funded by the US National Institute of Nursing Research and published in the peer-reviwed journal, Psychological Medicine. 122 adults from Rhode Island were observed, all of whom had moderate depression and had not responded well to antidepressant medications. It was conducted as a randomised control trial and the scientists behind the study looked into the participants as they underwent 10 weeks of hatha yoga classes. The main objective was to discover whether yoga is effective as an additional treatment for those who still experience symptoms despite having been prescribed antidepressants.

The research team from Brown University, the University of California and Eyes of the World Yoga Center found no improvement- or any other change- in the symptoms of the study volunteers during the 10 weeks of yoga classes. However, when following up six months later, evidence showed that the group who had undergone the hatha yoga course had experienced significant long-term improvements in the effectiveness of their antidepressant medication.


Yoga And Depression – How Can It Help?

Yoga is a form of physical exercise which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It involves holding body poses, breathing techniques and meditation. Many people who practice yoga believe it to be an effective form of stress and depression relief and this has been backed up by scientific research in the past. A 2009 study found that participation in two months of yoga classes could significantly reduce the levels of stress and anxiety in women. The research concluded that yoga could be used as a complementary therapy to be used alongside medical and psychological treatments.

One way in which yoga can help the symptoms of depression is by acting as a natural aid to serotonin production. According to The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, serotonin levels play an important role in the treatment and recovery of depression and scientific research consistently shows that exercise is an effective way to naturally boost the body’s levels of serotonin. Exercise has been used to improve the mood of both the general public and patients with clinical depression.

The fact that yoga can be such a gentle, calming and fluid form of exercise makes it one of the most enjoyable and stress-free ways to work out. Yoga poses are flexible and can be adjusted easily to suit different levels of fitness, so people of all ages and exercise experience can give it a try. Yoga is also helpful for those dealing with depression due to its emphasis on deep breathing, concentration and the practice of focusing on positive images to keep the mind calm.

It is important to note, however, that yoga is only suggested as a complementary therapy to be enjoyed alongside mainstream methods of depression treatment. Experts do not encourage people to use yoga as an alternative to medication or counselling. If you believe you may be experiencing the symptoms of clinical depression it is important that you make an appointment with your GP or mental health professional.


Yoga And Depression – What help is available in Richmond?

If you would like to learn yoga, to help manage the symptoms of depression or for any other reason, you will find a diverse range of studios and centres in Richmond that host regular classes. Here are two suggestions;

Yoga Haven is a popular studio situated just a few minutes away from the Richmond rail station. A friendly team of experts hold classes in traditional and non-traditional forms of yoga for beginners and experienced yogis alike.

Yoga Loft is a new studio, established in 2017, located in the heart of Richmond Town Centre. Here you can attend a variety of classes, from traditional Bikram to the more unusal vinyasa flow yoga, all overseen by highly experienced trainers.