Confirmed: Yoga Improves Mental Health

Confirmed: Yoga Improves Mental Health

The concepts of Yoga and meditation have been around for thousands of years. Practitioners have been raving about its countless physical, mental and emotional benefits. The list of proclaimed health improvements has grown quite long and diverse over time; leaving many non-practitioners to question the validity of these assertions.

Fights Depression

Some of the top claims include reduced problems with anxiety, depression, stress, concentration, memory, blood pressure, heart health, circulation and chronic pain. How can so many extraordinary things be possible without medical intervention? Research is finally backing up these beliefs with scientific evidence that demonstrates substantial effectiveness when combating mental health disorders with minimal side effects. Physicians and psychotherapists are increasingly adding these activities to their client’s treatment plans as alternatives to medicine or as holistic complements to traditional talk therapy.

One study conducted by Boston University School of Medicine, suggests that individuals who suffer from depression can benefit greatly when completing yoga exercises at least two times each week with the guidance of an instructor. The participants also engaged in additional in-home controlled breathing sessions. Another group increased their number of sessions to 3 times per week achieved even greater outcomes towards treating their major depression disorder. This is quite significant considering the fact that 40 percent of the people burdened with this disorder never fully recover from it. The type of yoga presented in this test is called Iyengar yoga which was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. Elements of this technique can be found in most common styles that focus on slowly aligning one’s of body posture while breathing in a controlled manner.

Other Mental Health Benefits

Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist from Harvard Medical School, discovered that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation produced positive changes in the brain. The amygdala region of the brain which is responsible for anxiety, stress and fear was reduced while the areas responsible for learning, understanding, memory and the regulation of emotions increased in density. Thus, dispelling myths about a placebo effect attributed to the enjoyable nature of the stretching and breathing exercises. Simply put, your mind focuses on what you are doing rather than the rest of the stress in your life.

The American Journal of Psychiatry stated that nearly 91 percent of people who suffered from panic disorder had improved symptoms after beginning meditation based stress reduction. These improvements remained during subsequent follow ups. Panic disorder is very disturbing for people who have it and the people around them. Subjects can become irrational, fearful, and anxious.

Nottingham Trent University's study utilized a method that evaluates how people make sense of any given phenomenon to prove that meditation awareness training enhanced psychological well-being by those suffering from stress and low mood disorders.

Through the use of meditation, The University of Michigan Health System was able to successfully help expecting mothers that suffered from depression bond better with their babies while exhibiting reduced symptoms. Sunrise Behavioral Health in Virginia Beach, VA integrates groups and private lessons to help clients recover from mental issues. The agency works as a friend to the community by accepting referrals from a wide variety of healthcare professionals to help extend the number of resources that other agencies can recommend to their clients. Groups are great complements to the services they provide.

As vast amounts of data continue to accumulate about this area of health and fitness, Yogis are feeling justified in the long held beliefs and clinical professionals now know they can recommend it to their clients with greater confidence. It’s amazing that something that has been available for so long is being perceived as the future.


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