Yoga and the Mind: Can Yoga Reduce Symptoms of Major Psychiatric Disorders?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Yoga does the body good, and according to a new study, it may ease the mind as well.

“Yoga has also become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and consumers to differentiate legitimate claims from hype,” researchers from Duke University Medical Center write in their study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. In order to explore the widely held belief that practicing yoga can relieve mental stress, the team reviewed more than 100 studies on the effect of yoga and mental health.

“Most individuals already know that yoga produces some kind of a calming effect. Individually, people feel better after doing the physical exercise,” says lead study author Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center. “Mentally, people feel calmer, sharper, maybe more content. We thought it’s time to see if we could pull all [the literature] together … to see if there’s enough evidence that the benefits individual people notice can be used to help people with mental illness.”

(MORE: Yoga Can Help Stroke Survivors Regain Their Balance)

Their findings suggest that yoga does in fact have positive effects on mild depression and sleep problems, and it improves the symptoms of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and ADHD among patients using medication.

The researchers focused on 16 studies that recorded the effects of practicing yoga on mental-health issues ranging from depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints and eating disorders to cognitive problems. They found positive effects of the mind-and-body practice for all conditions with the exception of eating disorders and cognition. Those studies involved too few participants or produced conflicting results to draw any meaningful conclusions.

Some of the studies included in the analysis even suggested that yoga might affect the body in ways similar to antidepressants and psychotherapy. For instance, yoga may influence brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters (boosting levels of feel-good agents like serotonin), lower inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and produce a healthier balance of lipids and growth factors — just as other forms of exercise do.

(MORE: We Tried This: Aerial Vinyasa (or Upside-Down) Yoga)

Embracing yoga as a complementary treatment for mental disorders is not uncommon. Yoga is a feature in many veterans’ centers throughout the country, backed by research funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Huffington Post reported that many troops use yoga as a form of treatment for PTSD, for example, with companies like Warriors at Ease training instructors in yoga techniques specifically catered to those in the military. A study published earlier this month of 70 active-duty troops found daily yoga eased anxiety and improved sleep.

The researchers say there’s enough evidence to warrant a larger study on the effects of yoga on mental health, and it should be considered as part of treatment for more disorders. “Many millions of Americans are doing yoga and many millions of Americans have mental illnesses and are popping psychiatric pills daily. Despite all of this, the vast majority of studies looking at the benefits of yoga are all small studies. We did not come across a single study where there was a coordinated effort done by some large agency to really conduct a large national study,” says Doraiswamy.

(MORE: Does Yoga Really Drive People Wild with Desire?)

But while the research is promising, yoga likely won’t be a panacea for mental illness. Nor should patients try to replace their medications with the practice. “What we are saying is that we still need to do further, large-scale studies before we are ready to conclude that people with mental illnesses can turn to yoga as a first-line treatment,” says Doraiswamy. “We are not saying throw away your Prozac and turn to yoga. We’re saying it has the promise and potential. If a large national study were done, it could turn out that yoga is just as good and may be a low cost alternative to people with unmet needs.” In the meantime, he says it doesn’t hurt to add yoga to existing treatments so patients can take advantage of any potential benefits.

21 comments
AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

It is sheer fantasy to claim that yoga can cure psychiatric disorders. Yoga was started by hermits and fakirs of India not to improve their health, or to get sex power  or to arrest aging but to meditate to their mythological gods in different and difficult postures (asanas) to attain salvation (nirvana). They wanted to torture their bodies (asanas) to appease their gods. Instead of living longer, they wanted to die early to attain nirvana. But modern Yoga gurus, just to make money, are putting forward tall claims that yoga can arrest aging, increase sex power and give good health. If this is true, why the lifespan of Indians is shorter than Europeans? Indians have been practicing yoga for centuries, and why their lifespan, health and mental alertness are far inferior to Europeans? Yoga gurus cheat people by saying yoga can cure cancer. Can they produce any cancer patient cured by yoga. All attractive terms such as sex power, long life, mental happiness are all used by these yoga gurus just to get money from gullible people. Psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, frustration, mental agony are the main causes for large scale suicide of Indians.

Reddy says that Vivekananda could die at any time he wanted and that he has not died at all. He also claims hat yogis can fly and go to any planet they want. That's how they fool their clients. Why yogis are not flying today? Can he show any yogi going to another planet? Can he show serpent rising from spinal cord (Kundalini yoga)? It is by using such imaginary phrases and assuring sex power like a roused serpent innocent, gullible people who want to enjoy sex are cheated and fooled.

DrRajeshMishra
DrRajeshMishra

Of Course Yoga, meditation can reduce major Psychiatric Disorders. But if you think, so called yoga only different exercise asana  will reduce or solve any problem. Sorry to say it will not work anything. If you are really doing yoga means complete/ holistic practice, Asana, Pranayama,relexation, Yoga Nidra, Meditation, shatkarmas etc, definitely it will work. Person need holistic food, holistic Yoga instead of just exercise. 

If you´ve car, as car has problem in Mechine and you are repairing in body, its useless. You need to work with mechine. like same if you want for mind then you´ve to practice for mind like pranayama, Yoga nidra, Meditation.                      

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Yoga and deep breathing.

The purpose of the lungs and breathing is to bring oxygen into the body to send it to the blood and remove carbon dioxide in the blood.. It is  a foolish belief in Yoga that by deep breathing that toxin will be released. But in reality, the oxygenated blood moves into the heart where it is pumped throughout the body. Carbon dioxide removed from the blood travels back up the bronchioles, through the bronchial tubes, up the trachea and out of the body when the diaphragm relaxes and the person exhales. The entire breathing process occurs in normal adults 15 times every minute and more often when the body needs more oxygen, such as with stress and physical activity. The lungs continue to filter the air and blood from birth to death in their unceasing action to keep the body functioning at its prime.

Yoga, being a primitive method of penance, does not know about the purpose of lungs. Yoga gurus fool the people by saying that by deep breathing, blood can be diverted to selected organs to get energy. To get sex energy, they say, by deep breathing and by concentration blood can be sent to sex organs. What a foolish idea!. While having deep breath, air goes only to lungs and not to sex organs. This is proved by athletes. A fast runner will exclaim, ‘I had to stop running to catch my breath.’ Or a swimmer will say, ‘ I had to stop swimming underwater to get my breath back.’

 Yoga gurus misguide people b y saying that by standing upside down with the head touching the ground (srasahrama),blood will stream into brain and improve memory power and intelligence. What a foolish idea! In this sense, blood will be streaming into our feet for they are always touching the ground. There is no scientific evidence that by standing upside down brain power will increase. Did Plato or Archimedes stand upside down every morning? It’s all foolishness to make money by yoga gurus and swamis who have infested the West.

Yogaindra
Yogaindra

I am a Yoga therapist and writer who works mainly with Addictions so i know all to well that is works. It helped heal me from a major eating disorder in my teens. From this place i dedicate the majority of my time to helping others who are suffering just as i did.

SavannahJual
SavannahJual

Upon reading this article, I was very disappointed to see that not a single reference is made to the origins of yoga, that is to say, its spiritual roots in India, where it is has been practiced as part of everyday life for centuries. This article talks about yoga as if it is an American invention and phenomenon, another gift America can give to the world, insulting the entire yogic tradition. 

RajinderSinghBhalla
RajinderSinghBhalla

Dehydration has to be very slow and properly monitored. The best form of dehydration is restricting fluid intake. The periods of dehydration should be followed by properly monitored hydration process.

RajinderSinghBhalla
RajinderSinghBhalla

There have been cases where people have becoming sick by doing yoga. People overdo yoga. As with any other form of dehydration there are risk factors.

There have been cases where sports people have early kidney problems. They seem to be doing wrong dehydration process.

RajinderSinghBhalla
RajinderSinghBhalla

We should try to look at most obvious things. Dehydration is the most obvious and common things in gym, yoga, sports. 

RajinderSinghBhalla
RajinderSinghBhalla

Yoga is slow dehydration if done in controlled environment. Sports is fast dehydration. Breathing exercises are also dehydration of a particulat area. None of these can be any better than simple dehydration in a completely controlled environment.

I recommend 10 days fluid intake to be restricted to 2 glasses of water (200 ml each) to be taken one each 1 hour before lunch and 1 hour before diner.

The above period of 10 days can be followed by 1 day of 6 to 8 glasses of water evenly spread out or better 2 glasses before each meal 1 hour hour before. Space each glass of water with 15 to 30 minutes.

Better still after 20 days give a break of 24 hours. No fluid intake.

I have very limited experiments with extremely good results in 100 percent of cases.


AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

@Sridhar Reddy  Bhakti yoga has not removed stress and anxiety in many cases.

Beatles and Yoga

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr  formed the Beatles and became world’s most astonishing  rock-‘n’-roll band.  Elegant lyrics, luminous melodies and a lovable looniness set them apart. 70 million people watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. They soon became rich and famous. They were attracted by the advertisement of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation (™ )and Yoga. It was propagated that TM would reduce stress and aid relaxation. Out of curiosity and for fun the Beatles met Mahesh Yogi. Till then Mahesh Yogi was living in anonymity. But the meeting with the Beatles gave him instant popularity and he became a world guru of Yoga and TM. Later the Beatles went to  Rishikesh and stayed in the ashram of the Yogi  in 1968 to study.  John and George eventually left the ashram when Mahesh Yogi had made sexual advances on the beautiful actress Mia Farrow. Meanwhile, by his name linked to the Beatles, the Yogi had millions and millions of dollars. Donations and the $2,500 (£1,270) fee to learn the technique helped finance the construction of Peace Palaces, or meditation centers, in dozens of cities around the world, as well as several universities. Did the TM and Yoga help the Beatles? Instead of TM removing stress and tension, TM increased their tension, stress and worry. They smoked marijuana to ward off worry and emotional strain. Yogi misled the people by saying that TM would improve concentration; but the Beatles suffered mental strain and nervousness. There were frequent disputes among them, especially over financial matters and choosing a song. Lennon was shot and killed on 8 December 1980, in New York City . McCartney declined to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, issuing a press release saying, "After 20 years, the Beatles still have some business differences which I had hoped would have been settled by now. Unfortunately, they haven't been, so I would feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion.” That was the endof the Beatles. The Beatles story is the historic evidence of the deception, falsehood and chicanery of the gurus and swamis of TM and Yoga. It is proved that troubles, stress and tension cannot be packed away and magically forgotten by TM and Yoga. It is also a real eyeopener how the swamis, yogis and gurus who are now invading the West are minting dollars by exploiting people suffering from anxiety disorders and stress in their day-to-day lives.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi told lies to his followers that Yoga can make people fly in the air. But nobody has seen any yogi flying in the air or hanging in midair. In these days of videos, if any yogi  flies , it can be video-graphed. Till now no medoa has published yogis flying or lifted into space. 

SridharReddy
SridharReddy

Suggestion :  Please do Bhakti Yoga, you can have greater control of mind.   Specially when u get bad thoughts or on some bad days, mind goes exited and creates more unhealthynes.    While doing Bhakti Yoga you dont have to follow Hinduism, rather have Jesus or Allah as per ur practice, but it soothes Mind and Brain coordination.

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

  1. It is nothing but a mere fantasy to say that vakrasana is excellent to strengthen the back. By twisting, no toxin will be released. That is how these yoga vendors fool the people to make money. Internal organs like the liver and spleen cannot be regulated by twisting. That means you do not have the elementary knowledge of physiology. In the original text of Mahabharata, there is no reference to Bhakti yoga. Taking certain strands in the mythological God Krishnan’s dialogue are expanded and interpreted by Vivekananda and others to give a philosophical outlook to the Gita. In the same manner high-sounding vakrasana, pranayamas etc., are introduced just to make money by making false claims that toxins will be released. What a foolish idea. Can you prove the release of toxins? Yoga was originally meant for ascetics who had surrendered all pleasures of life. Yoga is asceticism – to wander like beggars and to die, and not to enjoy worldly pleasures. Yoga of today is a fraud. Yoga has nothing to do with health or sex. Katha yoga is portrayed by yoga peddlers as a way to increase one’s sex power, to attract the westerners and to make money. But people who have practiced kathayoga have confessed that they have not experienced an iota of sexual energy after months of irritating exercise in katha yoga. They have admitted that katha yoga could not halt premature ejaculation. Yoga will not also arrest aging, as claimed by yoga gurus. The lifespan of yoga gurus is very short compared to people who do not practice yoga at all. Winston Churchill, for instance, a cigar-smoker, a non-vegetarian and who had never practiced yoga lived up to the ripe age of 90. Conversely, Vivekananda who practiced yoga regularly and even photographed in yogic postures (asanas) died at the young age of 33. Jeanne Louise Calment, the world's longest living person who died at the age of 122 had never practiced yoga. Her husband was a prosperous storeowner who offered her a life of ease revolving around tennis, bicycling, swimming, roller skating, piano and opera. She was a non-vegetarian, drank wine and ate a diet rich in olive oil. She used to eat two lbs. of chocolate per week until her doctor persuaded her to give up sweets at the age of 119. She quit smoking only at 119. It is a classical example to prove that vegetarian diet and yoga will never arrest aging. Tamil and Kannada Brahmins, for instance, are strict vegetarians, and their average lifespan is only 55. If modern drugs for diabetes and blood pressure had not been invented, they would probably die at the age of 35.  Experience is a proof to affirm that yoga has not improved one’s health. Tennis players and other sportsmen agree that they are in excellent health because of their sports activities. Conversely, look at the yoga gurus ad swamis. . If yoga can give longevity, why the lifespan of Indians is very short, compared to Europeans? If yoga can give mental happiness and peace, why millions of Indians are wallowing in distress, anxiety, suffering and depression? The purpose of the lungs and breathing is to bring oxygen into the body to send to the blood and remove carbon dioxide in the blood. Two lobes at the base of the bronchial tubes form the lungs. Protected by the rib cage, these lobes of soft tissue filter carbon dioxide from the air and blood, transfering the oxygen inhaled to the blood. A web of tiny blood vessels, known as capillaries, surrounds the nodes in the base of the lungs, which are the alveoli. Over 300 million of these tiny alveoli rest in the lungs. Inside these alveoli, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs. 

StephenDruesedow
StephenDruesedow

This is great to hear. I've had a lot of success with yoga personally. One thing I'd like to add as I hear more and more about yoga is that what we call yoga in the west is actually just a branch of yoga. Yoga is a science which encompasses basic ethical views, breathing exercises, meditation and more. There are 8 branches of yoga and what we usually think of as yoga in the west would be the branch called Asanas, which means postures. I just want to point out that there's more to Yoga than just these postures.  http://yogadork.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/patanjalis8limbs-alison-hinks-yogadork.jpg

sycupcake
sycupcake

I believe there was a study done by Aetna Insurance in 2012 that concluded that yoga reduced stress and the health cost of participants. I think this would qualify as a large group.

LisaKoopman
LisaKoopman

It's NOT yoga per say. Teaching anyone to slow down is never a bad thing in today's rush, I want everything ten minutes ago world. 

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

@aishreddy. I'm quoting your own words: " it is not Katha yoga, it is Hatha yoga, every asana described in that will do wonders, you can even be steady in the air, float in the water, and you can do every miracle by doing yoga. There are least gurus who have mastered yoga completely. They can do any sort of wonders."

We have been living for more than 20 centuries. Can you show any yogi "steady in the air, float  in the water and do every miracle by yoga? What are the miracles? What are the wonders? Why such floating in the air and doing wonders and miracles have not been video graphed? Why the location of these wonders and miracles is not revealed to the media? 

Nappapro
Nappapro

@SavannahJual I'm pretty sure that it wasn't the authors intention. Maybe the author assumed mist people already know that however it wouldn't have hurt for her to include it in her article.

Nappapro
Nappapro

@RajinderSinghBhalla where are you pulling this information from? Your body is made of about 70% water, dehydrating yourself would provide what benefit?

aishreddy111
aishreddy111

@AbrahamYeshuratnam Dear AbrahamYeshuratnam, even Jesus had met many saints in India, he is one inspired from Indian spiritual giants. He has learned many things from east. What you west people know is to enjoy , but we east as Indian, would consider those enjoyments as misery, and mere being indulging in sensual pleasures,  is living the life of a animal but nothing else. There are more things than enjoying pleasures, I ask you what pleasures did Jesus enjoy himself, did he enjoy woman, did he enjoy money, or he has been lived in rich mansions, yet he is blessed and can  share his blessings with the other world, it is inner consciousness, that is spiritual life which one can attain by mere giving, not consuming from the nature, but we enjoy more happiness in giving than taking from others. That is the idea of religion. And about yoga, I would say, yoga does many miracles  to humans. Millions of people have benefitted from doing yoga, it is the proof that many people lakhs of them come to India to learn yoga , and pranayam, and they feel blessed. pranayam can help cure diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart problems, there are lakhs of people who with proofs can show you this. Vivekananda can die when he wants, he did not die of mishap, but he can die when he want . He is conquerer of death. Icha Mruthyu. He went to meditate and left his soul through Brahmanadi. It is only possible for a yogi to do so. There are 84 lakhs asanas, every asana is a boon to mankind which only by practising, and accumulating one can have the benefits of it. Do not underestimate yoga,  it is 20,000 years of experience of us and our ancestors today , the whole world is going to benefit from it. If you just hold your breath, for 1 minute and then exhale , you feel the sensation of pleasure, calmness in your body, that is yoga , that is pranayam, what can we tell about the rishi who have made yoga his daily life to attain siddhis. Every thing is possible, if we try  we can experience something from it. Yes there are also many fraud things in yoga too. There is also cheating. There is no exception from it. Every field has some kind of faults in it. The western  nations have much greed, lust for the money, war etc etc. They are causing much damage to the world than any other people . They want to possess everything that is in nature, they dominate other countries, yoga can do 100 % much good than yours modern medicines . They only deplete one from their health, and wealth. people who cannot afford to buy medicines or to take your stupid medcines, which has side effects, one can easily do yoga and pranayama, and there are no side effects of it. But we people do not have the time. And to your sense, I think you do not have a keen knowledge of yoga it is not Katha yoga, it is Hatha yoga, every asana described in that will do wonders, you can even be steady in the air, float in the water, and you can do every miracle by doing yoga. There are least gurus who have mastered yoga completely. They can do any sort of wonders .But for us pranayama is enought. Not all will be winsten churchill, inspite of chain smoker, and non vegetarian, he lived 90 years. But he has a goal in life, that is his meditation, but not all people who chain smoke live for 90 years, it is stupid for 99% but there is a chance to 1 person or 2 persons. If 100 people drink acid then  many die there is a chance of 3 to 4 people or even 1 people to survive the accident.  once you see this , you can find any information and people who are benefitting from yoga. 

http://youtu.be/1e77exc7ukI

http://health.india.com/news/yoga-therapy-can-cure-every-disease-even-cancer/

http://yoganirvana.com/pranayama

Victor_47
Victor_47

@Nappapro here is a strong coordinated effort to disassociate Yoga from its Hindu roots. Many people have written about it. Part of the reason is that Hinduism is portrayed in a very negative manner in many Western/Christian circles. So those who want to spread Yoga, hide its Hindu origins.