What is yoga for depression and why is it done?
Given the chaotic times that we live in, almost all of us have felt low at one time or the other. Sometimes these feelings are situational i.e. when they are triggered by certain situations and end once that episode is over. However, attention and management are required if these feelings become chronic. There are several holistic approaches available to help you react positively to triggers of depression and ensure your emotional wellbeing.
Depression is treated through therapy and medications that include antidepressants. These medications treat depression by changing your brain chemicals and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine.
However, there is another very powerful way to treat depression, known as yoga for depression. This is an excellent way to reduce stress, triggers of depression, and improve your quality of life.
The practice of yoga and depression treatment goes hand in hand. Yoga to cure depression works on the root cause of this condition and aims to subtly and slowly remove those very causes by balancing your hormones and energy levels.
Which are some of the best asanas of yoga for depression?
Wondering how to do yoga for depression? Here is a list of some of the most effective asanas for depression explained in detail:
- Balasana (Child’s Pose): This is one of the simplest poses of yoga to cure depression. It helps calm your brain and relieve it of thoughts such as guilt and unworthiness.
- Kneel and sit comfortably on your heels.
- Make your big toes touch each other.
- Keep your palms on the knees and spread them hip-width apart.
- Gently bend your torso forward. Try touching your face to the ground.
- Straighten your arms and place them on either side of your head.
- Hold the pose for 20-25 seconds.
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose): This yoga pose for depression helps in calming your heart rate and in easing stressful thoughts.
- Lie on the floor on your back.
- Lift your legs gently and fold them at the knees keeping them in a straight line with your ankles. Your feet should be a few inches apart.
- Slowly lift your back off the floor and stay in this position for 10-12 seconds.
- Keep your thighs parallel to each other and touch your chest and chin together.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog Pose): An excellent yoga pose for depression, it helps in the circulation of fresh blood to your brain. This reduces disruptive thoughts and feelings of stress.
- Get on all fours in the tabletop position.
- Slowly straighten your elbows and knees and push your hips upwards. At this stage, your body should be in an inverted ‘V’ position.
- Keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Press your hands into the ground and keep your neck straight.
- Let your ears touch your inner arms and gaze at your navel.
- Hold the pose for 30-40 seconds.
- Shitali Pranayama: The practice of pranayama for depression is very effective in controlling your emotions and cooling your mind. Also known as the ‘Cooling breath exercise’, this helps you in reacting better to triggers to stress.
- Sit in a comfortable position keeping your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
- Rest your palms on the knees and keep your chest and abdomen open.
- Close your eyes and breathe through your nose.
- Relax your body and feel the tension getting released.
- Now stick your tongue out and roll it. Inhale through the curled tongue.
- When you wish to stop the practice, stop breathing through your tongue and breathe through nostrils.
- Kapalbhati: This is an excellent pranayama for depression since it helps in balancing your nervous system and makes you feel relaxed and calm. It also helps curb negative thoughts.
- Sit straight in a comfortable position and place your palms on your thighs.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale forcefully as you thrust your abdomen.
- Continue this inhale-exhale yoga asana for depression for at least 10 minutes.
What are the benefits of yoga for depression?
Every person feels depressive thoughts differently. Whatever be your thoughts and causes behind them, the practice of yoga and depression alleviation has been proved by several studies.
Depression is a result of several genetic, psychological, and biochemical changes and yoga therapy is an equally multidimensional treatment for this condition.
Here are some benefits of yoga asanas for depression and anxiety:
- People going through depression demonstrate higher levels of cortisol, which indicates changes in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. Yoga asanas for depression and anxiety regulate the production of stress hormone (cortisol) and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Breathing asanas for depression induce relaxation and mindfulness. This not just prevents unhealthy thoughts but also helps you react better to triggers of depression.
- The best yoga for depression benefit is that it improves the production of serotonin. This chemical helps make you feel happier and lighter. This also improves the feelings of self-worth and confidence.
- People feeling depressed often complain of fast heart rate and palpitations, especially during an episode of depression. Yoga asanas for depression help in relaxing your mind and body and reducing these discomforting symptoms.
- People who experience depression report broken sleep and feelings of fatigue. By relaxing your mind, yoga for depression helps sleep you better and feel more relaxed.
How to do yoga for depression safely to avoid injuries?
Here are some safety tips while practising yoga for depression:
- We recommend that you learn the asanas of yoga for depression properly from an experienced trainer. Alternatively, you can also join online yoga classes. This helps in preventing stress and injuries.
- Yoga for stress should be done without giving yourself unrealistic goals. Start your practice slow and build it up gradually.
- If you feel pain or dizziness anytime during yoga for depression, stop immediately.
- Don’t practice yoga for depression if you have a fever, flu, or cold.
For getting the best yoga for depression benefits, you need to inculcate yoga holistically in your life. Remember, it is a complementary therapy that cannot replace your medication and treatment.