By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, April/May 2005.
Yoga alleviates mild depression in adolescents and young adults, according to a recent study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Twenty-eight college students, ages 18 to 29, who were mildly depressed but had not undergone any treatment, were divided into a yoga treatment group and a wait-list control group. None had previous yoga experience. The yoga subjects attended a 1-hour Iyengar yoga class twice a week for five consecutive weeks.
Halfway through the study, yoga students demonstrated significant decreases in depression and anxiety, which were maintained throughout the research period. Subjects also reported decreased levels of negative mood and fatigue following yoga class. In addition, researchers found that at the end of the course, yoga students, compared to the control group, displayed higher levels of morning cortisol, a hormone often lacking in those who are depressed.