Presentation Title

Hyperthermic Yoga for the Treatment of Depressive Symptoms


Depression persists as one of the most burdensome public health concerns. Current antidepressant treatments often fail to bring individuals to complete and sustained wellness. Novel, integrative, and fast-acting treatments for depression are therefore needed; heated yoga may hold promise as one such treatment. Bikram Yoga, a popular, standardized form of heated yoga, combines two antidepressant components, thermal therapy and yoga postures/breathing exercises, which may synergistically work to produce antidepressant effects. Data from an open-label pilot study of 29 adults with 17-item Hamilton-Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D-17) scores = 10 who attended Bikram Yoga classes at least twice weekly for up to 8-weeks will be presented. We performed a modified-intention-to-treat (MITT) analysis including all participants who completed a week-1 assessment using the Last Observation Carried Forward (LOCF) method. Paired samples t-tests were utilized to compare primary outcome measures. Attendance data is under analysis and will be used for the analyses presented at the symposium. A significant decrease in depression scores was found for both clinician and self-rated depression instruments, HAMD-17 [t(29) = 5.93, p < .001; Pre Mean (SD) = 17.50 (4.67), Post Mean (SD) = 10.33 (6.64)] and Beck Depression Inventory [BDI; t(29) = 5.19, p < .001; Pre Mean (SD) = 20.48 (7.47), Post Mean (SD) = 12.12 (10.73)] total scores, respectively. Heated yoga appears to show promise, in a preliminary open-label pilot study, as a treatment for depressive symptoms. Future, more rigorous investigation is warranted.