Practising yoga has already been frequently linked with relief from depression and anxiety. But now researchers writing in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice say it may only take a month to see the benefits – which is great news if you want to feel better without becoming a yoga master.

The study followed 30 clinically depressed people, each of whom practised Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing – with half of the participants practising more often than the other half (over thee months some spent 123 hours doing yoga while the others practised for 87 hours). After just one month, both groups were sleeping significantly better, plus they enjoyed more tranquility, positivity and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression (these were apparently measured by several validated clinical scales). This, say the researchers, suggests yoga could be a complementary treatment for both clinical depression and major depressive disorder.

The group of volunteers who practised yoga the most showed greater improvements, as you would expect. But these improvements were not that significant, say the researchers – though that may because of the study’s small scale (in other words if it had followed more participants, greater differences between the two groups may have come to light).

This study is what experts call a dosing study – with the group spending 123 hours doing yoga the high-dose group and the other the low-dose group.

“Think of it this way, we give medications in different doses in order to enact their effects on the body to varying degrees,” says one of the study’s authors, Chris Streeter, an associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. “Here, we explored the same concept, but used yoga. We call that a dosing study. Past yoga and depression studies have not really delved deeply into this.”

The study’s findings may be useful because they could encourage more people to try yoga to improve their health and mental wellbeing, the authors suggest. If you’re thinking about giving yoga a try, think of this as just one more reason to dive in.


Photo by Howard S on Unsplash