Tuesday 24 October 2023

Banish depression by doing hot yoga and living with a cat companion

I have deliberately joined two ways to banish depression because I think together anybody who feels depressed or has been diagnosed with depression should wage a war on that mental condition and what better way to do that than owning a loving cat companion and participating in two hot yoga sessions per week?

Studies have confirmed that companion animals can alleviate depression particularly cats as it happens in one study. Another study recently published found that hot yoga can significantly reduce symptoms of severe depression. This is based upon a clinical trial.

Hot yoga

In nice to know that we have scientists stating that regular Bikram yoga classes, in which the participants pose in yoga positions in humid temperatures of 40°C, are an effective treatment option that can help to put depressed people into remission.

The clinical trial was led by Massachusetts Gen Hospital. They recruited 80 adults all of whom were suffering from moderate to severe depression. They were divided randomly into two groups.

The first group attended 90-minute hot yoga sessions twice a week while the others went on a waiting list.

After eight weeks, 44% of those who participated in Bikram saw big improvements in their depression symptoms to the point where they were no longer classed as depressed. This compared very favourably with only 6% of the control group who felt less depressed.

They assessed the depression using a standard assessment to call the Inventory of Depressive Symptomology Scale.

As mentioned, the participants attended two classes a week but even attending one class per week will help reduce depression, the scientists concluded.

The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Maren Nyer, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the trial said: "Yoga and heat-based interventions could potentially change the course of treatment for patients with depression by providing a non-medication-based approach. We are currently developing new studies with the goal of determining the specific contributions of each element, heat and yoga."

Cat companion

You will find many studies on the way that a cat companion can help alleviate depression in their caregiver. And you will find even more anecdotal stories which supports this conclusion. Many people find comfort in the companionship of domestic cats. They say that they have a positive impact on their mental well-being.

The effectiveness will depend upon the person. Obviously, you've got to like cats and you've got to be able to relate to your domestic cat companion because the closer the bond the more effective the "treatment" is.

Interacting with cats can provide emotional support. The caregiver receives unconditional companionship and love.

And the act of petting a cat has been shown to release endorphins. These are hormones which promote feelings of happiness, contentment and relaxation. 

The famous cat purr is a healer of bones and a panacea for the troubled mind.

And having a cat around the home can help instil rhythms and routines in both the cat and the caregiver which helps to stabilise home life.

And looking after a cat can instil a sense of purpose and responsibility in a person who needs structure in their lives. I'm referring here to retired people. They no longer have their work to help structure their lives. This can lead to a loss of purpose and depression.

Obviously, living with a domestic cat can help alleviate loneliness and loneliness can lead to depression.

But domestic cats are only one aspect of how to tackle depression albeit a major one as far as I'm concerned. There are no substitute for professional help if an individual feels they need it.

Drugs a last resort

But personally, I would regard drug treatments as a last resort. The preference would be to try both the above first because they are non-drug interventions which are far healthier.

All drugs are essentially poisons which means they have side effects. It is far better to deal with these problems, if one can, through non-chemical intervention. You don't want to alter your brain chemistry artificially if you can help it.

Bikram yoga

Bikram Yoga is a way to connect mind and body through breath, movement and sweat!

I would like to tell you what Abby McLachlan says about Bikram yoga. She is the founder of East of Eden, which is a yoga/Pilates and meditation studio in east London. Bikram Choudhury started the trend for hot yoga when he increased the heat of yoga studios in Japan in the 1970s to try to replicate Indian heat.

Abby states that: "Since the pandemic I've seen a rise in popularity for classes and work outs that people can easily replicate at home. Hot yoga very much falls into this category. We heat to 37°C, add high humidity through the use of humidifiers, and use aromatherapy scents to coloured lighting to enhance the experience. There are many benefits to practising yoga in a hot room. 

The heat increases the flexibility of your muscles, which can increase your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury. Your muscles also work harder, making standing postures and balances more challenging, but ultimately more beneficial. 

You might also detoxify in hot yoga through sweating more, and improve your circulation through better blood flow. You also find that your heart works harder in the heat giving you an enhanced cardiovascular workout"


Please forgive any typos. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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