Heated Yoga Associated with Reduction in Depressive Symptoms: Research


The research findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and spearheaded by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a founding partner of Mass General Brigham (MGB), reveal that heated yoga may be an effective depression treatment for patients. Adults with moderate-to-severe depression who participated in heated yoga sessions saw far larger decreases in Depressive symptoms than the control group in a randomised controlled clinical trial.

Heat yoga is a type of yoga exercise that is done in hot, humid weather, which makes you sweat a lot. It’s a more vigorous version of yoga done in a warmer space than usual. The temperature range that it can reach is 80–100°F (26.6–37.7°C). Bikram yoga is practised in a room that is 105°F (40.5°C) and 40% humid. There are 26 poses in it, along with a series of two breathing exercises.

About The Study:

Using the clinician-rated Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS-CR) scale, individuals in yoga showed a notably higher reduction in depressive symptoms after eight weeks compared to those on the waitlist.

80 participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups during the eight-week trial: one group practised 90-minute sessions of Bikram yoga in a room that was heated to 105°F, while the other group was put on a waitlist and had to finish the yoga intervention following their waitlist period. The analysis comprised 32 individuals from the waiting group and 33 from the yoga group.
During the course of eight weeks, the participants in the intervention group attended an average of 10.3 yoga courses, despite being recommended to attend at least two classes per week.

Researchers also found that, in contrast to 6.3% of waiting participants, 59.3% of yoga practitioners reported a 50% or higher reduction in symptoms. Furthermore, compared to 6.3% in the waiting arm, 44% of those in the yoga arm had IDS-CR scores so low that their depression was deemed to be in remission. Even participants who received half of the recommended yoga “dose” experienced a reduction in depressive symptoms, indicating that once-a-week heated yoga sessions may be helpful.

Word from Researchers:

The director of Yoga Studies at the Depression Clinical and Research Programme at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author Maren Nyer, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said: “By offering a non-medication-based approach with added physical benefits, yoga and heat-based therapies have the potential to alter the course of treatment for people with depression.”

Senior author David Mischoulon, MD, PhD, Director, of the Depression Clinical and Research Programme at Massachusetts General Hospital, states that “further research is required to compare heated to nonheated yoga for depressive symptoms to explore whether heat has advantages over and above that yoga for the treatment of depression, particularly considering the promising evidence for whole body overheating as a treatment for major depressive disorder.”

Exit mobile version