The Art of Living Foundation and International Association for Human Values announced today that studies conducted by doctors and researchers at the Fatebenefratelli e Oftalmico Hospital of Milan, Italy, found that SKY, a yoga based breathing technique program, significantly reduces levels of anxiety and depression.
This suggests a promising new low-cost adjunct therapy for improving mental health and well-being without side effects.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.K., affecting one in four adults in ages 18 and older, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
The positive outcomes of reduced cortisol levels with the SKY breathing technique in patients suffering from both anxiety and depression brings into focus an alternative, low-cost treatment for one of the most widespread health issues of our time.
In the Italian studies, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY), a comprehensive yoga breathing based program, demonstrated significant improvements in patients suffering from depression and anxiety.
The researchers found SKY to be effective in relieving both clinical and non-clinical anxiety and depression.
Interestingly, patients who were not on medication achieved the same impressive results as patients who were on medication. And results persisted at six months, showing it could not be a placebo effect.
These observed psychological improvements are corroborated by physiological changes documented in other depression and anxiety studies, such as reduced biomarkers of stress including cortisol (the stress hormone), increased levels of prolactin (a wellbeing hormone), and the return to normal of specific brain wave patterns that are often abnormal in depressed patients.
According to the researchers who conducted the study, there is sufficient evidence to consider SKY as a beneficial, low-risk, low-cost adjunct to standard psychotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy used in the treatment of stress, anxiety and depression.
Dr. Stefania Doria, psychiatrist and lead author of the scientific paper published from this research said, “We chose SKY because the protocol is based on simple breathing techniques that the patients can easily practice at home.
“This allows them to see concrete results day after day and recognise that they can take charge of improvement of their condition.
“This is very important because it further leads to some essential and desired side benefits: empowerment, improvement of self-esteem, and a positive change in patient’s perception of their disorder,”
The study was conducted in the Neurosciences Department of Fatebenefratelli e Oftalmico hospital in Milan with 69 adults (25-64 years) with a primary diagnosis of anxiety disorders.
Participants were divided into two groups: one underwent SKY treatment only, and the other had SKY treatment in addition to the standard pharmacological antidepressant and/or anxiolytic treatment. An important finding was that SKY was uniformly effective in providing remission from the clinical conditions in both patients who were on medication, as well as those who were unable or unwilling to take medication.
The study results demonstrated that the implementation of SKY therapy in a scientifically controlled, medical environment significantly reduced the levels of anxiety and depression in patients suffering from these disorders.
Sudarshan Kriya™ and its accompanying breathing practices (SKY) are derived from the 5,000 year old Yogic Science of Breath.
Taught by certified instructors of the Art of Living Foundation, SKY incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath to harmonise the body, mind and emotions.
Founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, AOLF is an international humanitarian organisation that offers educational and self-development programs to manage stress, foster inner peace and improve well-being.
IAHV is a global organisation that offers programs to reduce stress and develop leaders so that human values can flourish in people and communities.
Both the non-profit organisations hold a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.