Clinical depression happens when you experience an all-time low to the point where it impairs your functioning. Quit a job because you don’t feel like getting out of bed or lost interest in the simple pleasures of life? Those are the telltale signs.
Yoga for depression is designed to help you(1) get back your spark in life, feel younger, and healthier. Although you gain cognitive benefits, the mental and emotional components manifest to physical wellbeing too. Let’s dive deep into that below.
What Is Yoga and How Does It Help with Depression?
Yoga for depression involves a sequence of movements that synchronizes breathing and physical exercises to achieve a sense of balance and harmony. There are various styles out there and many different yoga poses, but the core philosophy of yoga is to connect with your deeper self and stay more grounded.
Did You know?
|Over 80% adults(2) report difficulties with work, home, and family activities due to clinical depression?|
A Brief History on Yoga
Yoga’s origins remain a bit mystical mainly because of how obscure the sacred texts are. Researchers say that Yoga goes back to over 10,000 years old and there are four main periods of its origin, practice, and development.
Pre-classical yoga marked the beginning during the Indus Valley Civilization in Northern India which dates back to over 5,000 years ago. The Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe Raja Yoga or the ‘eight-limbed path’ heading towards enlightenment.
Tantra Yoga was introduced during the post-classical period a few centuries later, rejecting the previous texts and focusing on mind-body-spirit connections.
Finally, modern yoga came around in the 1800s to 1900s to the West with Hatha Yoga being promoted by Krishnamacharya in Mysore around 1924.
Did You Know?
|Yoga keeps you looking young, boosts your immunity, and connects you to your inner spirit. It also protects your bone health too.|
5 Yoga Poses for Warding Off Depression
When it comes to yoga poses for depression, less is more for beginners. Keeping that in mind, these are the easiest ones to start with. Make it a ritual and you’ll start seeing results soon enough(3).
1. Child’s Pose
Balasana or child’s pose is one of the best yoga poses for relieving depression.
Sit on your knees with your hands on your lap. Gently lean forward, bending your torso and stretching out your lower back and hips.
Your head should face the floor with the tip of your nose a few inches from the ground.
Stretch your arms out. Stay in this position for a few minutes and then gently release your hold, getting back up slowly.
Why It Helps:
It loosens up the spinal muscles, calms your nerves(4), and releases tension.
[Read: Yoga Poses for Insomnia]
2. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose or Sethu Bandhasana is terrific for relieving a sore back as it strengthens your glutes, hip flexors, and back muscles.
Begin by lying comfortably on the floor with your arms by your sides. Keep your palms facing down with your knees slightly bent and a few inches apart.
Slowly fold your knees, giving a lift to your back and making sure that your arms stay on the ground throughout. If necessary, you may clap your palms together to lock your arms in place.
Take care not to bend your chin. Stay in this position for a few minutes, breath, and pull back, slowly returning to your original lying-down position.
Why It Helps:
Improves your energy levels by boosting your metabolism and regulates your digestion.
[Read: Natural Remedies for Depression]
3. Upward Facing Dog Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is good for healing cases of mild fatigue and depression. It provides a restorative effect on the body by helping it let go of any pent-up stress.
To do this pose, lie down on the floor with your legs and arms parallel to each other. Bring your palms close to your chest near the ribs and lift your torso.
Straighten out your arms and legs, making sure that they are a few inches from the floor.
Press the tips of your toes into the ground and look up. Bring up your chest and stay in this pose for a few moments. Release and relax.
4. Standing Forward Fold Pose
Standing forward-fold pose or Uttanasana is a bit advanced for beginners but is perfect for calming down panic attacks and relieving anxiety.
Stand tall with your feet a bit less than shoulder-width apart. Lay your arms on your sides.
Gently hunch over, taking your head towards the floor, a bit below the knees. Your hands go behind your thighs, holding your ankles in place.
Stay in this pose for a few minutes and breathe slowly. Release and return to your original position.
Why It Helps:
It calms your mind by relaxing your hamstrings, stimulates the liver, and soothes any migraines, anxiety, and headaches.
[Read: Yoga for Migraine]
Did You Know?
|Learning how to breathe while executing the pose helps your body get rid of toxins, improve circulation, de-stress, and rejuvenate your internal organs.|
5. Corpse Pose
The Corpse pose or Savasana looks deceptively simple but in reality, it is one of the most challenging yoga poses out there.
It teaches you the art of relaxation and most beginners have a tough time with this (including advanced yoga practitioners too).
For this pose, you will need a few props – a chair, a mat, and a towel. Set up the mat on the mat on the chair and use the towel to support your neck. Lie down on the floor with your calves on the mat and your knees bent.
Direct your gaze towards the ceiling, close your eyes and breathe. Feel your muscles from the top of the head to your lower extremities, scanning your body mentally, one part at a time.
Release any tension by imagining yourself sinking into deep relaxation. Take long and gentle breaths throughout and once you feel rejuvenated, you can open your eyes and return to daily life.
Why It Helps:
It teaches you how to relax and let go with a focus on living in the present. Promotes mental clarity too
[Read: Yoga Poses for Gastric Problems]
Did You Know?
|The Savasana is one of the most challenging yoga poses of all time which lets you return to your natural state as a human being.|
Precautions to Take When Doing These Poses
Some of the precautions to take while doing these yoga poses are:
- Always consult a doctor or medical professional if you are on any medications prior to attempting these poses.
- Don’t forget to stay hydrated.
- Do not eat heavy meals before practicing these poses and always use a yoga mat.
- Wear light clothing and make sure you’re in a quiet, well-lit environment.
With lifestyles getting busier, stress catches up and we forget how to relax and let go. Practicing these yoga poses for depression will gently remind you of that and help you connect with your deeper self. Take your time, don’t rush, and consider practicing under the guidance of a professional mentor to make sure you get the form right.
1. Is Yoga Good for Depression and Anxiety?
Yes, yoga is good for depression and anxiety. In essence, it teaches your body the art of slowing down, thus reducing mental chatter and triggering a relaxation response which helps you stay grounded.
2. Is Depression Common or Rare?
Depression is a global epidemic and affects over 121 million people around the world.
3. Does Depression Affect Women Only?
Depression affects both men and women alike, being more prevalent in women. One of the reasons behind this are the hormonal fluctuations women experience throughout their lives.
4. What is Postpartum Depression (PDD)?
Postpartum depression is depression faced by mothers of newborns. This is due to biological changes in the body after giving birth and feeling overwhelmed with taking care of a child.