The technique that eases depression when medicine fails

With the demands of the holidays, the lack of sunlight, the frigid weather and being trapped indoors, it’s no wonder depression rates tend to spike in the winter months. Of course, for many people depression is a yearlong or even lifelong battle…

In fact, more than 41 million Americans take prescription antidepressants. But at least half of these people don’t respond to antidepressant drugs and many others muddle through with nagging side effects. That means millions of Americans are still suffering and searching for a better solution…

Now, there are a lot of supplements you can buy and lifestyle changes you can make to ease depression. But without spending a single dime, there’s something you can try right now that may help….


A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that breathing can significantly improve anxiety and depression in people with major depressive disorder (MDD).

But not just any kind of breathing. It was a style of controlled yogic breathing meditation known as Sudarshan kriya yoga.

The study included 25 people who suffer from major depressive disorder, but weren’t responsive to prescription antidepressants. The researchers divided participants into two groups. One group did Sudarshan Kriya yoga breathing exercises and the other group didn’t. After just eight weeks, the group doing the breathing exercises watched their depression levels drop substantially.

Researchers used something called the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) to gauge depression levels in participants. The higher your score on this scale, the more depressed you are. People in the Sudarshan Kriya yoga group saw their score drop from a 22.0 (which indicates severe depression) to a 12.0 or lower (which indicates mild to moderate depression).

And that’s not all. In previous studies, Sudarshan Kriya yoga has been shown to help people with mild depression, people with depression due to alcohol dependence and people with major depressive disorder

Now, this is great news for anyone who’s struggled with depression of any kind. But you know the best part? Not only is this breathing technique effective, it’s free and available to anyone who’s willing to put in the time—no matter how serious their depression.

Another big positive is there are no unpleasant side effects like patients can often experience with antidepressant medications.

If you’re eager to learn more about this breathing technique that can battle even the most stubborn cases of depression, here’s what you need to know…

Sudarshan kriya yoga uses cyclical, rhythmic breathing patterns to relax your mind and body. In fact, it has the ability to put you into a deep meditative state that not only benefits your mental well-being but your physical well-being too. It’s been shown to lower your blood pressure, improve your immune function and increase the level of anti-aging antioxidants in your blood (like glutathione, catalase and superoxide dismutase).

Now, Sudarshan kriya yoga includes several different types of yogic breathing exercises, like:

  • Ujjayi or “Victorious Breath” where you breathe slowly (2 to 4 breaths per minute) focusing on the sensation of the breath as it passes through the back of your throat. You may need to constrict your throat slightly so you can hear and feel the breath as it goes in and out.
  • Bhastrika or “Bellows Breath” where you inhale air quickly and exhale it with great force, breathing at a rate of 30 breaths per minute.
  • Chanting where you say the word “Om” three times, holding each chant for as long as you can before running out of breath.

These are just a few different Sudarshan kriya yoga techniques, but there are plenty others. If you’re ready to try it for yourself, here’s a video with a simple Sudarshan kriya yoga exercise to get you started. Who knows? If you start practicing now, you might tame your depression once and for all.

Easy Health Options Tip: There’s a mind-taming herbal tea that’s reported to promote calmness and ease depression symptoms. Read Jenny’s post on “yoga in a cup,” here.

  1. “Yogic Breathing Helps Fight Major Depression, Penn Study Shows.” Penn Medicine. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  2. Sharma, et al. “A Breathing-Based Meditation Intervention for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Following Inadequate Response to Antidepressants: A Randomized Pilot Study.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2016.
  3. “Research on Sudarshan Kriya.” The Art of Living. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  4. A. Zope, et al. “Sudarshan kriya yoga: Breathing for health.” International Journal of Yoga. Jan-Jun 2013; 6(1): 4–10.
  5. “Sudarshan Kriya – A Yoga Breathing Instruction Tutorial.” Vimeo. Retrieved November 22, 2016.



Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and