Research: UEBELACKER and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 252

Abstract

UEBELACKER and COLLEAGUES, 1. Butler Hospital, Providence, RI, United States; Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, United States. Electronic address: luebelacker@butler.org ; 2. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, United States; 3. Butler Hospital, Providence, RI, United States; Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, RI, United States; 4. Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, United States; Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, United States; 5. Eyes of the World Yoga Center; 6. Butler Hospital, Providence, RI, United States; Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, United States; Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, RI, United States; 7. Butler Hospital, Providence, RI, United States; Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, United States conducted a randomized controlled trial to understand depressed individuals' experiences in a 10-week hatha yoga program.

Background

The authors set out to understand depressed individuals' experiences in a 10-week hatha yoga program.

Methodology

Design: In a randomized controlled trial, participants were assigned to either 10 weeks of hatha yoga classes or a health education control group. This report includes responses from participants in yoga classes. At the start of classes, average depression symptom severity level was moderate. Main Outcome Measures: After 10 weeks of yoga classes, we asked participants (n=50) to provide written responses to open-ended questions about what they liked about classes, what they did not like or did not find helpful, and what they learned. We analyzed qualitative data using thematic analysis.

Results

Elements of yoga classes that may increase acceptability for depressed individuals include having instructors who promote a non-competitive and non-judgmental atmosphere, who are knowledgeable and able to provide individualized attention, and who are kind and warm. Including depression-related themes in classes, teaching mindfulness, teaching breathing exercises, and providing guidance for translating class into home practice may help to make yoga effective for targeting depression. Participants' comments reinforced the importance of aspects of mindfulness, such as attention to the present moment and acceptance of one's self and one's experience, as potential mechanisms of action. Other potential mechanisms include use of breathing practices in everyday life and the biological mechanisms that underlie the positive impact of yogic breathing.

Conclusion

The most serious concern highlighted by a few participants was the concern that the yoga classes were too difficult given their physical abilities.

References

Uebelacker LA1, Kraines M2, Broughton MK3, Tremont G4, Gillette LT5, Epstein-Lubow G6, Abrantes AM7, Battle C7, Miller IW7. Perceptions of hatha yoga amongst persistently depressed individuals enrolled in a trial of yoga for depression. Complement Ther Med.;34:149-155. Oct 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.06.008. Epub Jun 27 2017.

Comment

The above research points the way for additional future research regarding how Yoga practices including breathing and mindfulness may be beneficial for individuals suffering from depression.

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