Mind-body medicine

It’s time to trade the couch for the mat, in more ways than one. At least, that’s the takeaway of one new study on the mental healing power of yoga.

Researchers reviewed 16 trials examining the link between yoga practice and a long list of psychological conditions. These included depression, schizophrenia, and ADHD.

Results showed that yoga practice had a positive effect on all of these diagnoses. Which means that this form of exercise could be as powerful as therapy and medication in the battle against mental illness.

If nothing else, it’s a glowing testament to the power of endorphins. I know I feel better when I exercise–and there’s a reason for that. Exercise increases levels of feel-good neurotransmitters.

It also fights inflammation and oxidative stress. In a nutshell, exercise helps to restore balance to your whole body–not least of all, your mood, as this new review shows.

And if a local drop-in yoga class can help to keep people off of side effect-laden antidepressants? Well, count me as a loyal fan.

“Yoga on our minds: a systematic review of yoga for neuropsychiatric disorders.” Front Psychiatry. 2012;3:117.