Sunflower Mandala

“A feeling of connectedness”: perspectives on a gentle yoga intervention for women with major depression

Research paper by Patricia Anne Kinser, Cheryl Bourguignon, Ann Gill Taylor, Richard Steeves. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 2013;34:402-411. doi: 10.3109/01612840.2012.762959


 

This short-term study–the treatment arm of the randomized, controlled parent study (see Kinser et al, 2014) that is also summarized in the Yoga Science Research Guide–documented the experiences of the 12 participants who completed an 8-week gentle yoga intervention for women with major depressive disorder (MDD). As noted above, the yoga group received weekly 75-minute yoga sessions (in local yoga studios) and were asked to practice daily at home. Data were collected at the end of the 8-week intervention via interviews with participants and through examination of participants’ daily log entries. Analysis revealed that yoga was a beneficial influence on key components of depression, identified in this study as stress, ruminations (persistent negative thoughts), and isolation.

The yogic techniques taught during the 8-week program offered self-care benefits that helped ease depressive symptoms. Subjects reported that they learned to interrupt their patterns of negative thinking, gained more self-awareness, slept better, and felt more in control of their lives. In her daily log, one participant noted that “ . . . when you know yourself better, when you know your body and mind better, you start using them in healthier ways.”

“As a mechanism for providing moments of calm, self-focus, and connection in women with depression, yoga may serve a broad social need whereby individuals seek practices that heighten self-awareness and inner healing.” -Kinser et al, 2013

Yoga also had a positive impact on feelings of isolation. The weekly practice sessions got participants out of the house, created a shared experience and a sense of community with others, and offered a safe and nurturing environment.

“As a mechanism for providing moments of calm, self-focus, and connection in women with depression, yoga may serve a broad social need whereby individuals seek practices that heighten self-awareness and inner healing,” the investigators concluded, adding that further long-term research is warranted to continue to investigate yoga as an intervention for women with MDD.



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