Yoga Sessions Show Promise as Adjunct Therapy

A positive effect on anxiety and depression, and less disordered eating

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2010 Volume 21, Number 6
©2010 Gürze Books

Individualized yoga treatment proved to be an effective counterpoint to eating disorders symptoms in a recent study. In the study, 50 girls and 4 boys aged 11 to 21 years who were receiving outpatient care for an eating disorder were randomized to an 8-week trial of standard care versus individualized yoga plus standard care. Of these, 27 were randomized to receive standard care and 26 were randomized to a yoga group. Standard care (appointments every other week with a physician and/or dietitian) was required for all on ethical grounds (J Adolesc Health 2010; 46:346).

The No Yoga group was offered yoga after the study was finished as an incentive to maintain participation. T. Rain Carei, PhD and colleagues evaluated the subjects at baseline, at the end of the trial, and again one month after treatment ended. The participants were assessed with the Eating Disorder Examination, Beck Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and a food preoccupation questionnaire. Weight and height were measured, and their body mass index (BMI) was also calculated.

Those in the Yoga Group had greater decreases in eating disorder symptoms and their EDE scores decreased; in contrast, in the No Yoga group, while there was an initial decline in eating disorder symptoms, these returned to baseline values 4 weeks after the study. Food preoccupation, which was measured before and after each yoga session, decreased significantly after all sessions. BMIs were unchanged, but the group taking yoga lessons had decreased levels of anxiety and depression 4 weeks after the study.

The authors concluded that individualized yoga therapy holds promise as adjunctive therapy to standard care.

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