New research suggests yoga therapy may help ease depression and anxiety.
The first-of-its-kind study was conducted by psychologist and Yoga Institute founder Michael de Manincor at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine.
The research was conducted over a period of six weeks and was based on the experiences of 101 people with a history of mental illness.
All participants continued with their regular treatment, but half were also given yoga therapy plans tailored to their needs.
Mr de Manincor said participants who used the yoga plans showed a 33 per cent decrease in depression and a 26 per cent decrease in anxiety.
“After a period of six weeks, there was a significant reduction in negative experiences,“ he said.
“What’s quite unique about this study is that when people talk about the benefits of yoga, they usually think of classes.
“This is the first study in the world where participants were given a yoga plan specifically catering to their health needs.”
Mr de Manincor said the study provided people with evidence that the benefits of yoga were more than just “anecdotal”.
“This is not something people who do yoga do because they’re nice people. It’s integral if we have a more personalised approach yoga is actually more effective,” Mr de Manincor said.
Yoga Therapy Australia master yoga therapist N Chandrasekaran said yoga therapy allowed the body to heal itself. He said medication wasn’t the solution to long-term health.
“Anti-depressants, mood stimulants are required only during acute, difficult periods. Along with these medications, yoga therapy should be introduced, he said.
“They can even in due course come off of the medication completely.”
Trainee yoga instructor Bec Miller said she had struggled with mental illness since her early teens and started seeing a psychologist when she was 20. She had been prescribed an anti-depressant.
“I discovered yoga two years later and have worked my way to being completely off my pills and I just completed my level one teacher training in yoga so I can help others,” she said.
Ms Miller said she attributed her positive outlook to the philosophy behind yoga, not just the poses but also the meditation and breathing.
Transgenisis School of Yoga owner and therapeutic yoga instructor Patti McBain said she recommended a practice called “energy hygiene” to those struggling with mental illness.
Ms McBain said energy hygiene allowed people to get rid of the negative energies stored in their bodies via the channels within their bodies known as chakras.
Dr Chandrasekaran said the practice allowed for blockages to be removed so that a person may become stronger.
“When the person becomes stronger, he will not react to the external threats in the same way. The chemical composition of his constitution has changed,” he said.