There have been many studies conducted on how yoga for depression benefits the variety of overall wellness. There are obvious physical benefits which include greater flexibility, greater strength, and balance. All of the physical benefits will also affect the mind. The connection between the body and mind can’t be contested. If you are mentally healthy, you’re more inclined to make better choices for your physical body. So it goes without saying that when you’re taking care of yourself physically, you help your mental state.

This is, in many ways, the reason that yoga was developed. Before there were prescription medications, one would have to solve mental issues in other ways. It was 2,000 years ago that yoga was introduced in India. Along with aspects like meditation and the Ayurveda diet, yoga helped people with their mental and physical state. Modern medicine is recognizing yoga as a good alternative for many problems, this includes depression. There are an estimated 16 million adults in the US who have or are experiencing depression.

Yoga is Helping People with Depression (Yoga for depression)

zen yoga poses, Yoga for depression

This number includes those who have had an episode of depression in the last 12 months. Never mind the people who haven’t been diagnosed and received the help they need. The need to overcome depression is obvious but not everyone wants to rely on prescription medications that are highly addictive. There are recovery centers for all types of addiction are now using yoga for depression as a part of overall recovery. This is because the medication is not a long-term solution for those who have general clinical depression. Can yoga help people to overcome depression? Science thinks so.

A Recommended Treatment for Depression

Studies are finding more and more that yoga does, in fact, help someone with depression, overcome it. Depression is a common mental health disorder in the US. While antidepressants are still currently the first choice to manage it, they aren’t beneficial to everyone. There are up to 30% of patients who don’t respond to medication. At best, some people only see a little bit of improvement but will then be managing severe side effects. This is why finding another source of recovery has become so relevant.

What’s the Theory Behind Yoga for Depression?

Yoga is a practice of the body and the mind. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reported that about 13 million American have practiced yoga within the last year. Of those people, there are close to 60% of people that say yoga has helped them with their health and how they feel mentally. Health issues that have been reduced or alleviated include the neck, shoulder, and back pain along with mental disorders like anxiety. Studies are stacking up to suggest that depression may also be treated with yoga. The Medical News Today conducted a study that found breathing that is associated with yoga improved depressive symptoms with some patients suffering from depression.

Bikram and Hatha Yoga Benefits for Depression

A study conducted by the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California included 23 male veterans. They had to do hatha yoga for 8 weeks, twice a week. This is where you hold yoga poses for a few breaths. It is a combination of physical exercise, breathing, and meditation. Researchers found that the veterans with high levels of depression had a significant reduction in their depression scores once the 8 weeks were over. Participants rated the sessions throughout the 8 weeks. The participants rated the practice higher as time went on. The rating of enjoyment for the participants was 9.4. out of 10 in totality.

Another study that was exclusively women aged 25-45 did two weekly sessions of Bikram yoga for 8 weeks. This is the branded yoga for hot yoga which became popular in the 1970’s. The Alliant International University in San Francisco, CA had a controlled group and a group doing the yoga. The depression levels of both groups were assessed four times. This includes the before and then after effects. The group that did the yoga experienced a reduction in their symptoms of depression significantly.

A Yoga Retreat for a Healthier Lifestyle

As mentioned, yoga and depression does connect the body and the mind. One of the ways a person might get back to a lifestyle that improves chemical imbalances in the brain is through yoga immersion. A study suggests that yoga retreats will allow you to reset your habits. The unhealthy lifestyles that include not enough exercise and non-nutrient rich foods can cause depression or can worsen it. Doing yoga daily and eating the kind of food you would at a yoga retreat can help with serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. These are the chemicals responsible for how happy you feel.

Yoga and Chronic Depression

A study conducted found that there is a possibility that yoga can help with chronic depression which affects the brain differently than episodes of depression. The study was conducted by the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in the Netherlands. There were a total of 12 adults who had been dealing with chronic depression for 11 years. Each participant was asked to do yoga for 2.5 hours once a week for a total of 9 weeks.

After the study period was completed, the levels of rumination (which cause stress and anxiety), depression, and worry were all reduced. This was immediately after the study but had also remained 4 months later when reassessed. The conclusion from the study was that yoga-based intervention to offer hope for those with depression.


  1. I really believe that Yoga is a great tool for holistic development of the body. It’s not just exercise and helping your gain physical fitness, it’s also great for improving the mind, and it actually “heals” you rather than just improving fitness.

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