Harvard-Columbia research study indicates yoga can reduce depression

Yoga and controlled breathing reduce depressive symptoms, according to The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine which published a study conducted by Columbia and Harvard researchers. 

This study on ‘Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder with Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing’ claims to provide evidence that participation in an intervention composed of Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing is associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms for individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). It also included researchers from Boston University, Boston Medical, McLean Hospital, ENRM Veterans Hospital, New York Medical, Biostatistical Solutions, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Yoga, study, depressions treatment, MDD
The study showed promising results in alternative treatments for depression. Photo courtesy: Eli Christman

The article stated that subjects were randomised to the high-dose group (HDG) or low-dose group (LDG) for a 12-week intervention of three or two intervention classes per week, respectively. They claimed that depressive symptoms declined significantly in patients with MDD.

It pointed out that up to 50% of individuals treated with antidepressant medications for MDD do not achieve full remission and that yoga-based therapies offer promise.

Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada, called this study “a step in the positive direction”. Zed urged all major world universities, hospitals and medical institutions to explore various benefits yoga offered.

Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilisation, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self-image.