Yoga is often associated with relaxation and increased flexibility, but it has healing properties and health benefits as well. A new study from Boston University found that yoga may help symptoms of depression. This is thought to be the case because yoga involves deep breathing. The study found that taking yoga classes twice a week that included 20 minutes of slow gentle breathing helped lower participants scores on depression screening questionnaires by at least 50%. Study participants who took more than two classes per week experienced lower depression scores.
This is thought to be a positive scientific development as it offers people an alternative to taking more antidepressants and has less side effects and potential drug interactions. Yoga could be “prescribed” as an additional treatment. This is something that people who have not responded to traditional treatments could consider if their treating physicians support it. It is felt that yoga might help people who haven’t responded to medications or traditional treatments because yoga focuses on the autonomic nervous system. Yoga and deep breathing go hand in hand and what they target is that particular system. It is thought that if the autonomic nervous system is properly balanced, the brain will work better.