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Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: Regain your Peace with Yoga Therapy

Published on 23 Sep 2021

Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: Regain your Peace with Yoga Therapy

Loss of focus, concentration and will interfere with our daily lives from time to time. However, we usually overcome the dissipation of productivity and jump back to our well-laid routines. But, for some this deprived state of mind prolongs for extended periods of time even leading to a point where one loses the will to leave bed for days and tends to isolate themselves from society. 

The Diagnostical and Statistical Manual prescribe the current criteria and definition outlined by eminent scholars in the field of psychology and other related disciplines. The diagnosis for depression includes the display of five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

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Other Symptoms of depression are -

  1. Short-tempered or easily annoyed
  2. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  3. Thoughts of death or suicide
  4. Difficulty with concentrating or making decisions
  5. Feeling tired or fatigue
  6. Changes in appetite such as overeating or loss of appetite
  7. Changes in weight such as weight loss or weight gain
  8. Changes in sleep pattern

The mental health specialists resort to tried and tested medications such as anti-depressants and therapy or counseling for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. That being said, one can explore different mediums to find their cure. Mental health disorders such as depression are not 'one-size fits all''. Hence, every individual barring the technical criteria experiences an array of conflicting emotions. 

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Now, let us navigate how yoga for depression affects our mental health during such taxing times-

How does yoga affect depression?

As we speak, the researchers are studying the efficacy and effectiveness of mind-body interventions such as yoga as an alternative and complementary treatment for depression. According to the study titled, 'The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression'-

  The philosophy of yoga is based on 8 limbs that are better described as ethical principles for meaningful and purposeful living. While there is no specific definition, yoga has been interpreted as a process of uniting the body via mind and spirit to promote physical and mental wellness.  

As cited by the Harvard Mental Health Letter, recent studies suggest that yoga-

  • Alleviates stressful bouts
  • Helps in neutralizing anxiety and depression
  • Provided a self-soothing tool
  • Ups the energy quotient

Numerous bodies of research have shed light on yoga's potential to reduce depression or depressive symptoms.

Suggested Read: Yoga Guide for Beginners

There has been an increasing shift in people opting for Yoga as the ideal exercise to synchronize their internal and external worlds.

Benefits of Yoga Therapy

Yoga is a medium of exercise combining different body poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. Yoga therapy could be suggested as an add-on to your medical treatment of depression for giving you additional aid in regaining your focus and energy

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One can go for Yoga Therapy for achieving the following -

1. Enhances Mood & Improve Relaxation

  According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, serotonin production plays a role in the treatment of depression. Serotonin is believed to play a major role in happiness  

Yoga aids in increasing serotonin production in the body. Also, the gentle pace of yoga asanas spreads calmness to your mind and body resulting in a more relaxed disposition. Yoga classes are designed in a manner where one reflects on positive thoughts and attains a sense of self. 

2. Reduce Stress & Anxiety 

  • Practicing yoga for the long term can help in coping up with petrifying anxiety and panic attacks. Yoga reduces cortisol levels in our body, that is, the primary stress hormone.
  • A high HRV means that your body is better at self-monitoring or adapting, particularly to stress. Yoga works towards increasing your heart rate variability (HRV), or change in the time between heartbeats, by escalating the relaxation response over the stress response in the body.

Suggested Read: Surya Namaskar & its benefits 

3. Intensifying Concentration 

Regular meditation allows the mind to get away from the constant hassle and entanglement of thoughts; it lets the mind concentrate on one thought and questions its material existence.

By reflecting on the varied thoughts, a mind blazes through not only brings the mind and body in the coalition but also extends the practitioners’ emotional quotient and wisdom on the trivial matters life puts forward.

Specific Yoga Poses For Depression

 If you practice Yoga, then the flow of practice would generally intake a variety of poses aimed at tackling diverse problems. Although here are several Yoga For Depression poses you can keep under your belt-

1. Child's Pose (Balasana) 

  • Efficient at putting you in a relaxed state
  • Calming the nervous system
  • Tapers down anxiety and stress

2. Downward-facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Savasana) 

  • Spreads energy throughout the body
  • Directs blood flow to the brain, hence, boosting your mood
  • Aids in curing insomnia, headaches and fatigue

3. Bhramari Pranayama (Humming Bee Breathing Exercise) 

  • Helps in thought alignment
  • Refines confidence

Suggested Read: Yoga Asanas for Stress Relief 

4. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique)

  • Help in being present in the moment
  • Cleanses the Nadis, that is, Energy channels
  • Wards off stress & depressive bouts

5. Plow Pose (Halasana)

  • Helps in dispelling stress and fatigue
  • Stimulates the Thyroid Glands
  • Vibrates energy and smoothens mood swings

Ending Note

If you or your loved ones are displaying the symptoms of depression, consulting a mental health professional would be a wise choice. 

You could always go for experiences that put your mind at ease and help you cope up in stressful times be it yoga, cooking, art, or travel.