New studies show yoga helps alleviate depression

PARKVILLE, Mo. – A new study says that one form of exercise could have healing power on people suffering from stress, anxiety and even depression.

Depression is the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability. That’s according to the World Health Organization which estimates that 350 million people are affected by depression, making it one of the most common mental health disorders.

"I have students who will come in from a very stressful day at work and you can just see that their whole body is just like this and the breath is just not moving and by the end of the class, they’re like this,” said Wendy Landry, Certified Yoga Therapist, with Om Prana Yoga & Consultants.

Landry has been teaching for over a decade but began practicing after postpartum depression took over her life.

“Started taking classes 2 and 3 times a week and within 2 or 3 weeks, I began to feel like myself again," said Landry.

Landry isn’t the only person finding peace through her practice.

“When I come here, I can just really let go and relax and really feel what’s going on inside my body,” said Deb Ritter, Om Prana Yoga Member.

A new series of studies show how yoga is becoming a recommended treatment to reduce symptoms of the condition.

“It helps to boost your immune system but it also helps to bring your nervous system into balance,” said Landry.

One study shows done by the American Psychological Association shows how breathing-based yoga alone helped improve depressive symptoms.

“If you’re able to draw the breath down, more diaphragmatic breathing, and bring it down into the belly, it’s a slow, calmer breath and then the whole body and the mind follows,” said Landry.

The study shows that yoga obviously has fewer side effects than medication. People who have not responded to traditional treatments like therapy of prescriptions are encouraged to step onto the mat.

“If you can relax your body and clear our mind and lift your spirit, then it really, really will have an effect on those things,” said Ritter.

The researchers involved in these studies say that while yoga is proven to help in most cases, it shouldn’t completely replace traditional therapy.

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