Yoga can prevent and treat depression without medication or as complementary therapy, according to several clinical trials published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

4 Ways Yoga Gets Rid of Depression

4 Ways Yoga Gets Rid of Depression


You might be able to get rid of depression short term after only one yoga class. But when it comes to fighting this unpleasant mental state over the long term, practicing yoga regularly seems to produce better results than an irregular schedule.

*Please note that those diagnosed with depression should not substitute yoga classes for medication unless approved by your doctor and people with suicidal thoughts should seek professional help immediately.

1. Yoga Enhances Depression Treatment & Promotes Recovery

Doing yoga regularly helps you overcome depression, according to a study from the University of Mississippi published in the International Yoga Journal. Researchers analyzed published yoga studies and found consistent yoga practice:

  • improves depression
  • promotes depression recovery
  • enhances depression treatment

*The type of yoga in these yoga-treats-depression studies was mostly Iyengar Yoga.

2. Yoga Increases GABA Levels Naturally

A 60-minute yoga class increases plasma GABA levels in experienced yoga practitioners, according to a 2007 study from the Division of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Researchers compared 8 experienced yogis to 11 people who did not practice yoga. Both groups completed the same 60- minute yoga class. The data indicated that the experienced yogis had a 27 percent increase in GABA levels, but the novice group had no increase.

*Doctors believe low plasma levels of GABA increase your risk of depression.

3. Yoga Elevates Mood Better than Walking

Yoga elevates your mood better than walking, according to a 2010 study from the Division of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Thirty-four healthy and nondepressive subjects completed the 12-week study. One group went walking for 60 minutes, three times per week, and the other group took a 60-minute yoga class three times per week. The results indicate the yoga group had greater improvements in mood than the walking group.

4. Effective Therapeutic Intervention for Depression

Yoga might be an effective therapeutic intervention to get rid of depression, according to a 2005 study from the Research Council for Complementary Medicine in the United Kingdom published in the Journal of Effective Disorders.

The study examined five, published clinical trials that examine participants with mild to severe depression. The participants practiced a different type of yoga in each study.  The resulting data indicate the potential benefit of yoga as a therapeutic intervention for depression.

References for 4 Ways Yoga Gets Rid of Depression

1. Pilkington, K., Kirkwood, G., Rampes, H., & Richardson, J. (2005). Yoga for depression: The research evidence. Journal of Affective Disorders, 89(1-3), 13-24.

2. Streeter, C., Whitfield, T., Owen, L., & Rein, T. (2011). Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary medicine, 16(11), 1145-52.

3. Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International Journal of Yoga, 4(2), 49-54.