Yoga and Depression: A Promising Alternative for Symptom Management

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Yoga and Depression: An Effective Alternative for Symptom Management


Yoga, an ancient practice rooted in Indian philosophy, has gained increasing attention for its potential therapeutic benefits. This article examines the efficacy of Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing in mitigating symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) and related conditions.

Evidence-Based Benefits

Recent studies, such as the one published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, demonstrate the positive impact of yoga-based interventions on individuals suffering from MDD. Participants engaged in Iyengar yoga sessions twice or three times per week for 90 minutes each, along with home practice. The findings revealed significant reductions in depressive symptoms for both groups.

Mechanism of Action

Researchers suggest that yoga’s benefits stem from its ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and increase gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity in the brain. This mechanism differs from pharmacological antidepressants, which primarily target monoamine systems.

Professional Perspectives

Dr. Jayapriya Krishnaswamy emphasizes the role of relaxation and recovery poses in yoga, which contribute to calming the mind and improving overall awareness, thereby reducing depression. John Schumacher, an advanced Iyengar yoga teacher, views depression as an energetic disorder that requires specific practices to regulate energy levels and promote alignment.

Clinical Applications

Brooke Myers, another student of Iyengar, shares her experience assisting with the instruction of a depressed individual and attests to the therapeutic effects of yoga in managing depression. She highlights the importance of supported poses, back bending, and inversions in stabilizing energy levels.


The research presented in this article supports the use of Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing as an effective alternative or complement to antidepressant medications. Yoga’s unique mechanism of action offers a novel approach to managing depression and related conditions, potentially mitigating side effects and drug interactions.


The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for personal medical advice and treatment of medical conditions.


Sujata Srinivasan

Award-winning Connecticut-based journalist whose work has appeared in NPR’s Connecticut regional station WNPR, Forbes India, and Connecticut Business Magazine.

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