HealthDay News — Weekly sessions of yoga and deep breathing exercises can help ease symptoms of depression, according to a study published online February 16 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Chris Streeter, MD, of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues tracked outcomes for 30 people with major depressive disorder. All were randomly assigned to take part in either a “high-dose” or “low-dose” yoga intervention. The high-dose group had three 90-minute yoga classes each week along with home practice, while the low-dose group engaged in two 90-minute yoga sessions each week in addition to home practice. The participants practiced Iyengar yoga, a method that focuses on detail, precision and alignment in posture, and breath control. 

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The researchers found that both groups had significant reductions in their depression symptoms. Those who took three weekly yoga classes had fewer depressive symptoms than those in the low-dose group, but Streeter’s team said even two classes a week was still very effective in improving people’s mood.

“This study supports the use of a yoga and coherent breathing intervention in major depressive disorder in people who are not on antidepressants and in those who have been on a stable dose of antidepressants and have not achieved a resolution of their symptoms,” Streeter said in a university news release.

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