In a randomized and controlled, mixed-methods study conducted at the University of Virginia, Patricia Kinser and her colleagues compared an 8-week yoga intervention with an attention-control group focused on health and wellness. While both decreased symptoms of major depression in the 27 women enrolled in the study, the yoga group had a unique trend in decreased ruminations. Ruminations usually result in a lot of negative self-talk. Participants in the yoga group reported experiencing increased connectedness and gaining a coping strategy through yoga. Dr. Kinser, the lead author of the study, is also a yoga teacher and LifeForce Yoga Practitioner. She wrote a manual for the yoga teachers who delivered the yoga protocol, in which the essential elements of LifeForce Yoga were covered, including “setting the safe and sacred container,” “meeting the mood with the practice,” “permission to adapt,” and pranayama breathing practices. The physical postures were designed as a gentle practice, incorporated from Iyengar and Kripalu Yoga.
Participants were guided at home by selections from the LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues – DVD, and weekly handouts with class themes, pictures and descriptions of the poses practiced in class that week. The control group attended an 8-week series of health education sessions titled “Health and Wellness Program,” involving lectures and video. According to the authors, “…participants in the study were encouraged to use yogic practices in a way that best met their daily needs, which differentiates this yoga intervention from others in the literature that do not account for individual mood differences.”
Kinser, P., Bourguignon, C., Whaley, D., Hauenstein, E., Taylor, A.G. (in press). “Feasibility, acceptability, and effects of gentle Hatha yoga for women with major depression” Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.