Despite ongoing advances in the treatment of mood disorders, a substantial proportion of people diagnosed with major depression or bipolar disorder remain symptomatic over time. Yoga, which has been shown to reduce stress and depressive symptoms, as well as to improve overall quality of life, shows promise as an adjunctive treatment. However, dissemination of yoga for clinical populations remains challenging. The purpose of this pilot study was to test the feasibility and acceptability of an online yoga intervention for individuals with mood disorders.
In total, 56 adults who reported being diagnosed with a mood disorder (bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, cyclothymia, or schizoaffective disorder) were recruited from MoodNetwork, an online community of individuals with mood disorders. A feedback survey and a measure of positive and negative affect were administered before and after a 30-minute online Hatha yoga class.
In total, 44 individuals (78.6%) completed all components of the yoga class. The mean score on a 10-point Likert scale rating how much participants liked the online yoga class was 7.24 (SD=2.40). Most participants (67.9%) reported that they would be “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to participate in an online yoga program again. There was a statistically significant decrease in negative affect after completing the class (t=−6.05; P<0.001), but positive affect did not change (P>0.10).
These preliminary data support the utility of online yoga tailored specifically for people with mood disorders as a possible adjunctive intervention that warrants further investigation.