Practising hot yoga regularly could help alleviate symptoms of depression, a new clinical trial has found.
Just one class a week in temperatures of 40.5C (105F) could be enough to have a positive impact on mental health, according to the results of the research.
An eight-week trial, led by Massachusetts General Hospital, split 80 participants into two groups, with one taking part in the 90-minute Hatha hot yoga sessions and the other group placed on a waiting list with no treatment.
Analysis of the findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Those taking part in the sessions were prescribed at least two classes a week, and attended an average of 10.3 classes during the eight-week period.
Those surveyed after participating in the hot yoga sessions said they’d seen a 50 per cent decrease in symptoms of depression – with 44 per cent of the group’s symptoms so significantly reduced they would be classed as in remission from the illness.
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Lead author of the study Maren Nyer, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said: “Yoga and heat-based interventions could potentially change the course of treatment for patients with depression by providing a non-medication-based approach with additional physical benefits as a bonus.
“We are developing new studies with the goal of determining the specific contributions of each element, heat and yoga, to the clinical effects we have observed in depression.”
David Mischoulon, a senior author of the study, added: “Future research is needed to compare heated to non-heated yoga for depression to explore whether heat has benefits over and above those of yoga… especially given the promising evidence for whole body hyperthermia [heating up] as a treatment for major depressive disorder.”