Objectives: There has been limited study of therapeutic yoga as a complementary treatment for schizophrenia. This study investigates the effects of a Yoga Therapy program on symptomatology and quality of life in adults with schizophrenia in a state psychiatric facility.
Methods: In a randomized, controlled pilot study, 18 clinically stable patients (12 men and 6 women) with schizophrenia (mean age=42±13.5) were randomized to an 8-week Yoga Therapy program (YT) and a Waitlist group (WL). YT intervention included yoga postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation. At baseline and at 8 weeks, symptomatology was measured using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Secondary efficacy outcomes were measured with the World Health Organization Quality of Life BREF questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF).
Results: The YT group obtained significant improvements in positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia symptoms compared to WL, including PANSS scores on positive syndrome (t=-2.64, p=0.02), negative syndrome (t=-3.04, p<0.01), general psychopathology (t=-3.74, p<0.00), activation (t=-2.29, p<0.04), paranoia (t=-2.89, p<0.01), and depression subscales (t=-2.62, p<0.02). PANSS total scores also decreased for the YT group (t=-4.54, p<0.00). YT had improved perceived quality of life in physical (t=2.38, p<0.04) and psychologic domains (t=2.88, p<0.01).
Conclusions: Adults with schizophrenia being treated in a state psychiatric facility who participated in an 8-week therapeutic yoga program showed significant improvements in psychopathology and quality of life compared with controls. The findings of this study need to be confirmed in larger, more sufficiently powered studies with active control groups.