Yoga, breathing exercises have long-term impact on clinical depression

Brittany A. Roston - Nov 14, 2019, 1:59pm CST
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Yoga, breathing exercises have long-term impact on clinical depression

Practicing yoga and a special type of breathing exercise may have a long-term impact on clinical depression, anxiety, and sleep quality, according to new research. It’s known that yoga is linked to changes in the severity of depression, but the new study indicates just how little effort it takes to experience long-term positive changes.

The findings come from the Boston University School of Medicine, which found that coherent breathing and iyengar yoga caused significant improvements in the sleep quality of clinically depressed patients, as well as symptoms related to depression and anxiety.

Coherent breathing is a type of breathing exercise that involves taking around five long, steady breaths per minute. Iyengar yoga, meanwhile, is a type of yoga practice highlighted in a bestselling 1966 book; it involves paying close attention to the precision and performance of each yoga posture.

These changes were found in two different groups of clinically depressed participants, one that spent 123 hours in sessions over the course of three months and one that spent 87 hours in sessions during the same time period. The participants in both groups likewise experienced great improvements in levels of physical exhaustion, tranquility, and positivity.

These positive changes were experienced after only one month of sessions, according to the researchers, who noted that the changes were validated using clinical scales. The number of sessions was referred to as ‘doses’ and the results were described as ‘cumulative.’ The study indicates that combining yoga and breathing exercises with therapy and medication may offer better help for people suffering from clinical depression.


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