Schizophrenia is a highly disabling illness. Previous studies have shown yoga to be a feasible add-on therapy in schizophrenia.
The current study aimed to test the efficacy of yoga as an add-on treatment in outpatients with schizophrenia.
The study done at a tertiary psychiatry center used a single blind randomized controlled design with active control and waitlist groups.
Consenting patients with schizophrenia were randomized into yoga, exercise, or waitlist group. They continued to receive pharmacological therapy that was unchanged during the study. Patients in the yoga or exercise group were offered supervised daily procedures for one month. All patients were assessed by a blind rater at the start of the intervention and at the end of 4 months.
Kendall tau, a nonparametric statistical test, showed that significantly more patients in the yoga group improved in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) negative and total PANSS scores as well as social functioning scores compared with the exercise and waitlist group. Odds ratio analysis showed that the likelihood of improvement in yoga group in terms of negative symptoms was about five times greater than either the exercise or waitlist groups.
In schizophrenia patients with several years of illness and on stabilized pharmacological therapy, one-month training followed by three months of home practices of yoga as an add-on treatment offered significant advantage over exercise or treatment as usual. Yoga holds promise as a complementary intervention in the management of schizophrenia.