Yoga for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Yoga meditation outdoor

“When you don’t go within, you go without. ”  – Yogi Bhajan

Science is beginning to prove that Eastern methods of healing such as meditation and yoga are valid ways to address psychological conditions.  Research suggests that breathing exercises and yoga postures can be individualized to address psychological disorders.  Different types of yoga help different disorders.  For example, kundalini yoga has been found to reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (Shannahoff-Khalsa 2006; Shannahoff-Khalsa & Beckett, 1996). Not sure what a kundalini yoga practice entails?  Check out my earlier blog entitled, “What is Kundalini?”

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

Mantras are an important element of kundalini yoga techniques.  Yoga philosophy asserts that in the upper palate of the mouth reside 84 meridian points that interact with the tongue when sound is uttered.  When a mantra is repeated the tongue stimulates the points of the upper palate in a certain sequence.  The repeated sequential sequence is transmitted to higher brain centers through the hypothalamus and thalamus, which affects the psyche.

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?

In a study using an 11-part kundalini yoga protocol the  obsessive-compulsive disorder subjects who participated in yoga showed significant improvements when compared to the control group (Shannahoff-Khalsa, 1997; Shannahoff-Khalsa et al., 1999). The yoga group demonstrated a 62% improvement in mood, whereas the control group declined 2%.  Additionally, the kundalini group had a 48% reduction in stress levels.  Researchers hypothesized that the retention in participants for this year long study came from the rapid relief felt from participating in kundalini yoga therapy.

REFERENCES

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (1997). Yogic techniques are effective in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorders. In E. Hollander & D. Stein (Eds.), Obsessive– compulsive disorders: Diagnosis, etiology, and treatment (pp. 283–329). New York, NY: Marcel Dekker.

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (2006). Kundalini yoga meditation: Techniques specific for psy- chiatric disorders, couples therapy, and personal growth. New York, NY: Norton.

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D., & Beckett, L. R. (1996). Clinical case report: Efficacy of yogic techniques in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorders. The International Journal of Neuroscience, 85, 1–17. doi:10.3109/00207459608986347

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