Aerobic movement of any kind helps to relieve depression and anxiety by boosting our brain’s dopamine levels and providing endorphins. But some types of exercises are superior for healing chronic conditions, mood disorders, and addiction. Yoga’s therapeutic benefits have been studied in recent decades, with much of the research being in randomized controlled trials — the most rigorous for proving efficacy.
There are many types of yoga, of course — from the more aerobic power yoga to a meditative gentle yoga. Hatha yoga, the most studied, combines physical postures (asanas) and controlled breathing with short periods of deep relaxation. I have found the most benefit from Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, a sequence of 26 Hatha yoga positions and two breathing exercises designed by Bikram Choudhury to engage and heal all of the systems of your body.
I spoke with someone who has depression and did hot yoga for a few years. However, this instructor moved away and there is no one else to teach this form of yoga in my city, according to her. How effective are the other forms of yoga since the hot one is unavailable here?