Heated Yoga May Help Ease Depression, Study Suggests

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Heated Yoga May Help Ease Depression, Study Suggests

A recent study has found that people with moderate-to-severe depression who participated in heated yoga classes experienced significant improvements in their symptoms over an eight-week period, compared to those who were assigned to a waitlist.

Study Details

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, involved 65 participants who were randomly assigned to either heated yoga classes or a waitlist. The yoga classes were held in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and followed a traditional Bikram yoga sequence, which consists of 26 postures performed in a specific order.

Results

The results showed that 59% of participants in the yoga group experienced a significant reduction in their depression symptoms, compared to only 6% in the waitlist group. Additionally, 44% of participants in the yoga group achieved remission from their depression.

Possible Benefits

While the study did not determine whether the heat or the yoga postures themselves were responsible for the benefits, researchers speculate that the combination of heat, physical exertion, and mindfulness practices may work together to improve mood and reduce stress.

Implications

The findings suggest that heated yoga may be a promising complementary therapy for individuals with depression, particularly those who find traditional exercise regimens unappealing or ineffective. However, further research is needed to confirm the long-term efficacy and safety of this intervention.

Expert Commentary

Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, director of the Center for Green Psychiatry in Austin, Texas, commented on the study, saying, “This study is encouraging and adds to the growing body of research indicating that movement, including yoga, may help alleviate depressive symptoms.”

Brown emphasized the importance of finding an appropriate type of yoga for each individual, noting that beginners may not be comfortable with heated yoga and that there are other forms of yoga that can provide similar mental health benefits.

Researcher Perspective

Lead researcher Maren Nyer, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, shared her personal experience with heated yoga and how it led her to explore its potential benefits for mental health.

Nyer acknowledged the limitations of the study and stressed the need for further research to determine the specific components of heated yoga that contribute to its antidepressant effects.

Conclusion

The study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of yoga as a complementary therapy for depression. While heated yoga may offer additional benefits, further research is required to determine its long-term effectiveness and optimal dosage.

References

  • Nyer, M. E., et al. (2023). Heated yoga for depression: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness. Exercise and mental health.


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