Yoga as a complementary treatment in mental disorders

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It is only in the last two decades that mental health professionals have started looking at yoga as a possible treatment option for various psychiatric disorders. The introduction of yoga as an alternative and/or complementary treatment for patients with psychiatric disorders could be an effective solution for three basic reasons: (1) yoga which originated in India, is seen to be a practical and accepted intervention for patients to practice at home, (2) the number of yoga therapists is more than the number of mental health professionals available in India, (3) yoga is cost-effective and has no side-effects as in the case of psychiatric medications.

However, the psychiatric illness outcome with yoga as treatment modality would depend on (1) whether yoga can be effectively used as an independent or add-on treatment to pharmacology, (2) compliance to yoga and its effect in case of non-adherence – effectiveness of brief yoga practice versus continued practice, (3) establishment of community yoga groups – where the patient can get supervised and continued training. Answers to the above research questions could help propagate yoga as an effective solution to problem of accessing, affording and availing quality mental health care services and treatment in the Indian community. In this paper I have attempted to review all intervention studies that have used yoga as a treatment method for minor and major psychiatric disorders and that have been published in scientific journals in the last one decade.

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