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Breathing techniques in yoga can drive your depression away-says science

Breathing techniques in yoga can drive your depression away-says science

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In Summary

A recent study shows that acute depression can be treated effectively without any drugs using the breathing technique known as ‘Sudarshana Kriya’ practiced in yoga.

Editor Posted by Ansheed

Yoga for all

Yoga has been a decent solution for many diseases, that are conventionally treated at the expense of drugs. The popularity of this art had skyrocketed in the past couple of decades due to globalization and its efficacy. Now yoga is a global art of meditation practiced in many parts of the world. A study led by Dr. Anup Sharma from Department of Neuropsychiatry Research from the University of Pennsylvania showed that breathing techniques practiced in yoga can be the key to eliminating the severe depression, without any drugs.

The study was focused on patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). In order to rate the level of depression, the researchers used a Hamilton Depression rating Scale (HDRS). It is a scale with numbers that is used in the clinical analysis of depression after assessing various parameters like moods, interest in activities, energy level, suicidal thoughts, concentration, guilty feeling and other symptoms. 

About the study

In order to understand the impact of traditional yoga practices in modern therapy, researchers recruited 25 patients with a medical history of MDD, who are currently under drug therapy. They divided the group in two, where one is ‘waitlist’ who served as control group, received conventional drugs for treating depression whereas the test group comprised of patients whose drug course is terminated and prepared  for yoga classes.

The results were in favor of the anticipation or even better. The test group is administered with a classical breathing technique called as ‘Sudarshana Kriya’ along with other yoga postures and exercises, while the waitlist group continued their usual drug course. The test group showed a significant reduction in HDRS scale whereas the control group show least to no improvement.

Those who practiced ‘Sudarshana Kriya’ showed a median score of 10.27, who were initially around 22. This indeed suggested why the therapeutic approach needs a renovation. The waitlist group received the yoga therapy soon after the study and witnessed a successful improvement.

What’s future?

It was clear from previous statistics that around 50% of the population who took antidepressants doesn’t fully respond to medicines and in most cases they experience elevated symptoms too. This inefficiency is overcome with this new study, which is more natural & requires no intakes or equipment. In fact, all it need is some time, inclination and patience, and rest is assured in yoga. While practicing yoga, body experience a synchronization with mind and therefore it releases healthy levels of hormones that drives the stress away.  In point of fact, the same mind-body synchrony is the heart of yoga.


Anup Sharma, Marna S. Barrett, Andrew J. Cucchiara, Nalaka S. Gooneratne, Michael E. Thase. A Breathing-Based Meditation Intervention for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Following Inadequate Response to AntidepressantsThe Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2016; DOI: 10.4088/JCP.16m10819