Can Yoga and Breathing Exercises Relieve Depression?
A combination of yoga and breathing exercises can reduce the discomfort of patients with major depression. Scientists from the USA were able to show this in a small randomized study. In the study, yoga exercises were combined with breathing exercises that are said to increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.
34 participants took part in the study. They were divided into two groups. All participants completed 90-minute therapy sessions during which they performed various Iyengar yoga exercises in the first 60 minutes. After ten minutes of relaxation, 20 minutes of breathing exercises followed.
The difference in the two groups was the training intensity. The first group practiced 90 minutes three times a week in a yoga class and four times 30 minutes at home. In the other group, patients completed two 90-minute yoga classes a week and three 30-minute homework assignments. There was no therapy-free control group. In both groups, the patients were allowed to continue taking their medication.
Significant relief from depression was observed in both groups after 12 weeks. Before the start of the study, the participants in the training-intensive group had a score of 24.6 points in the BDI-II (Beck Depression Inventory), which indicates moderate depression. After the end of treatment, the BDI-II had dropped to 6.0 points. They were below the threshold of 8 points above which depressive symptoms appeared. The group with the low intensity dropped from 27.7 to 10.1 points. Here too, many patients had recovered from their depressive symptoms. You can find the study here.