You Said What Improves Depression?

Yoga and Depression

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Now depression or low moods are something we all experience from time to time. Clinically diagnosed depression is very different than feeling a little low. But I think we can all agree that anything natural and holistic that lifts the mood, improves, health and lightens the soul would be a good thing to try. That is why I am a big supporter and advocate for any kind of exercise, including yoga.

Yoga is being carefully researched for its many wonderful health benefits. Natural and requiring very little equipment it is something that any one, any age and under most any condition can practice. However, it is far more than an exercise class made up of various poses. Recently I read an article in a scientific magazine about yoga and depression. Confusing and misconstrued I felt compelled to write to the editor.

The article was written about a research study that claimed hot yoga improves depression. In reading into the study I discovered that the researchers tested a group of hot yoga participants against a group of inactive participants. I was puzzled.

How can a claim be made that hot yoga improves depression when tested against a group who were inactive? We have volumes of scientific evidence that shows that activity improves both physical and mental health where inactivity does not. Shouldn’t hot yoga have been tested against regular yoga to make this claim? Does this mean “cold” yoga can’t deliver the same benefits?

I shook my head realizing how easily we can all let something significant slip beneath the dazzle of the headline. Sometimes the truth gets slipped beneath the surface in favor of proving something to be right.

Remember soy products everywhere? Now we hear soy is not good for us. How about coffee? Now it is a great source of antioxidants. It’s important that we don’t take things at face value and take the time to peak between the blurred lines.

Now I am not against hot yoga. Any yoga is good because it gets the body moving and the mind quiet. We have plenty of research to show that movement and a peaceful mind is good for stress, easing depression and many physical ailments.

I have taught yoga for over twenty-five years and I can tell you that hot or not most people feel better after a yoga class. Simply by moving and breathing they initiate the flow of the so called “feel good” neurochemicals. It is irresponsible reporting (and research) to say that hot yoga is the answer to relieving depression. This makes me wonder who funded the study. Now if you really want a study, test hot yoga against regular yoga, cycle class or dance and see what the results are. I bet you will find that it is not hot yoga, but exercise of all sorts that helps to improve depression. Oh and I have not heard back from the editor! I guess it didn’t make them happy when I called them out?!

Doctor Lynn

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