A new study has revealed the potential mental health benefits of yoga, a form of meditation commonly carried out to improve the mood, alleviate anxiety, and reduce stress.
The San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Centre, which published the research, found that male veterans who took yoga classes twice a week had fewer symptoms of depression.
Study author Dr Lindsey Hopkins said: “Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, and many new yoga practitioners cite stress-reduction and other mental health concerns as their primary reason for practicing.
“But the empirical research on yoga lags behind its popularity as a first-line approach to mental health.”
Further research yielded similar findings. Women aged 25 to 45 took yoga sessions twice a week over a period of eight weeks, with the group seeing a marked improvement.
“We can only recommend yoga as a complementary approach, likely most effective in conjunction with standard approaches delivered by a licensed therapist,” added Dr Hopkins.
“There seems to be a lot of potential.”
The researchers added that despite the link between yoga and reduced symptoms or feelings of depression, “traditional” methods shouldn’t be abandoned.
Depression is the most common mental health condition worldwide, with around 20 per cent of over 16s in the UK exhibiting symptoms at least once in their lives.