Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.
~B.K.S. Iyengar (Quote Garden)
A study on yoga & Bipolar Disorder recently dropped in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, “Self-Reported Benefits and Risks of Yoga in Individuals with Bipolar Disorder“. It has blown the bipolar-sphere up. When I finished yesterday’s post about yoga for veterans with PTSD I had a Google alert for “bipolar disorder” with four links about it, with varying opinions. Today I have more opinions on it to review.
It involved 109 participants who self-identified as having BD & practicing yoga being given an online survey of their experiences with yoga. The results were majority positive, for instance less anxiety & better sleep, but some people did report having negative experiences such as agitation during rapid breathing or hot yoga. The study mainly saw hatha & vinyasha yoga, the typical yoga practiced in the USA, rather than the sudarshan kriya yoga of yesterday’s post. Further research is planned.
For the most part, we are in agreement: yoga is one potential facet of a balanced treatment approach to BD, but it isn’t for everyone. Research has shown physical activity is beneficial for mental health & meditation is good for relaxing; yoga is moving meditation, basically. It’s not surprising it’s been such a wonderful experience for some people. A lot of people get the same benefits from walking, running, swimming, biking, sports, dancing, etc. I personally don’t think yoga has the market cornered on feel good exercise, but it seems to be a favorite of people. It can be a very gentle & accommodating activity, but most things can if approached right. It can also be very dangerous.
The only real dissent I found was from Science 2.0, who adamantly believe yoga is not a cure for BD & knocked the methodology of the study. No, it’s not a cure; no one ever said it was or would be. Neither are lithium or lamotrigine, but nobody’s throwing them out the window because they can’t cure BD, just help manage it. Nobody says people with BD don’t need therapy because it won’t cure them.
As for the methodology, the study author acknowledges it wasn’t the most scientific method. It was more of an amuse-bouche of the end-game research. Getting a feel for what’s out there & where they can take further research. It’s kind of like going to a movie & asking the people coming out if it was any good. Of course they are going to be biased, they chose to go see the movie, doesn’t mean their opinion is worthless.