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The Benefits of Yoga in Mental Health Treatment


Yoga has been around for over four millennia and yet it remains as popular as ever. In fact, a quick Google search reveals at least 800 yoga studios in the Los Angeles area alone. Furthermore, according to the International Yoga Federation, there are approximately 300 million people practicing yoga worldwide. Part of the reason for its enduring popularity is the relief it brings to its practitioners. Along with the rise in mindfulness practices like yoga over the past 50 years, there has been an attendant increase in research studying their benefits to mental health. The results have been overwhelmingly positive, and we’d like to take a look at some of them here.


Modulating Stress Response Systems

A recent article from Harvard Medical School details the benefits of yoga for those suffering from anxiety and depression, two of the most common mental health issues we see at Creative Care. HMS asserts that since yoga reduces perceived stress and anxiety, it “appears to modulate stress response systems.” If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember we mentioned the body’s response to stress in our discussion about childhood trauma. Trauma sends it into overdrive. Furthermore, it is a major factor in the development of mental health issues like anxiety and depression.


A Reduction in Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

A study by the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in the Netherlands found that patients suffering from depression reported a greater reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress after a nine-week yoga course in conjunction with medication and therapy compared to those who received medication and therapy alone. Another study, this one by the University of Pennsylvania in 2019, found that folks with medication-resistant depression saw a decrease in depression and anxiety after practicing yoga. In contrast, those on medication only reported no change.


An Excellent Coping Mechanism

These studies point to yoga as an excellent coping mechanism. As psychotherapist Erin Wiley explains, “[i]t teaches clients that they have control of their stress reaction, gives them a coping skill for when they are overwhelmed, gives them experience in practicing calming down which is helpful for times of distress.” However, while yoga can work wonders in managing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, it cannot cure them. If the trauma at the roots of these disorders remains untreated, those symptoms will recur.


Attending to the Mind-Body Connection

At Creative Care, we incorporate yoga alongside therapy to produce a synergistic interaction. Indeed, yoga and other relaxation therapies teach valuable recovery skills and attend to the mind-body connection. Meanwhile, our expertly trained therapists help clients uncover and process their trauma. This is what we mean by treating the “whole person”. Furthermore, we coordinate our services to treat each client holistically from admissions to aftercare. Additionally, services may include:

  • Individual and group counseling
  • Medications
  • Family or couples therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Nutrition group
  • Equine group

We work as a team to lead our clients to live a new life of happiness and fulfillment. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression and anxiety, start the recovery process today by calling Creative Care at 855-954-0762.