Gentle Hatha Yoga alleviates depression and ruminations in women with major depressive disorder, according to a study from the University of Virginia and published in a 2013 issue of the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.
Depression is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. and around the world. Sufferers are twice as likely to be female and deal with various debilitating symptoms, including feeling worthless, brooding ruminations and thoughts of suicide. What is Gentle Hatha Yoga? The class consists of Hatha Yoga poses suited for beginners and the instructor encourages open communication about any discomfort so he can recommend modifications to make the student more comfortable.
The Gentle Hatha Yoga Study Participants
The 27 women in this eight-week Gentle Hatha Yoga study took the initiative to contact the researchers after seeing flyers advertising the study. Just like you, these ladies felt motivated to try and help themselves relieve the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). All yoga beginners, the women had not practiced yoga or meditation for more than one month in the past five years. Additionally, each woman was experiencing moderate to severe depression, but did not suffer from psychosis or mania.
The Gentle Hatha Yoga Prescription
The researchers placed the women, with an average age of 43, into a yoga or a control group. The Gentle Hatha Yoga group attended one, 75-minute group class weekly and were prescribed to complete a 20-minute at home practice daily with a DVD.
The group class began with setting positive intentions based on weekly themes and breathing exercises / pranayama, followed by a sequence of Hatha Yoga poses suited for yoga beginners. The class closed with a session of guided meditation known as Yoga Nidra and finally the corpse pose / shavasana as final relaxation. To reduce the opportunity for negative thoughts, the amount of total silence during final relaxation gradually increased over the eight weeks.
The control group completed a Health and Wellness Program consisting of weekly 75-minute classes, where they watched videos and listened to lectures.
Does Gentle Hatha Yoga at Alleviate Symptoms of MDD?
The researchers found, Gentle Hatha Yoga is effective at helping alleviate some symptoms of major depressive disorder and is sometimes more effective at relieving these symptoms than a Health and Wellness program. The success of the yoga group occurred despite that on any given week about 40 to 50 percent of the women did not complete the prescribed dosage of yoga. This is good news, because we all know how difficult it can be to fit yoga into our schedule every day.
– Ruminations – The Gentle Hatha Yoga group showed a “unique trend towards decreased ruminations” that did not appear in the Health and Wellness Program group. According to the American Psychological Association, ruminating is mulling over an issue at length and ruminations are a predictor of depression.
– Women in the Gentle Hatha Yoga group also experienced increased feelings of connectedness and felt as if yoga was a helpful coping strategy, which did not occur for women in the Health and Wellness Program group.
– Depression – Both the Gentle Hatha yoga group and the Health and Wellness Program group experienced a significant decrease in depression, with their level of depression dropping from moderately severe to minimal.