For years, yoga devotees have been telling us that bending and twisting our limbs into gravity-defying contortions is a great way to develop the perfect body. Now things have gone one step further, with a new wave of teachers claiming that yoga also offers a fast track to a beautiful mind.
Everyone from fraught mothers to stressed-out hedge-funders is catching on to the benefits of yoga therapy, a fusion of deep breathing, invigorating postures and self-help. This version of the ancient Indian practice is gaining credence within the medical community for helping with a range of issues, such as recession depression and anxiety, through to bipolar disorder and other mental-health problems.
In London, yoga therapy is now being offered at a number of NHS hospitals, while in New York, patients seeking help for depression and anxiety are as likely to find their hard-nosed psychiatrist treating them on a yoga mat as on a couch. It’s not surprising. We might all be sick of hearing about the economic climate, but it is undeniably taking its toll. We are currently in the biggest anxiety matrix the country has seen for more than 50 years. In recent months, mental-health charities have reported a surge in people seeking help for stress and depression. And after all the scare stories about the side effects of antidepressants, patients are increasingly wary of using medication to solve the problem.