Yoga therapy | Depression

How Yoga therapy can help with depression

Yoga therapy can help with depression in the following ways:

Depression

We all get to feel a little low sometimes but depression is an illness that interferes with normal life and functioning. Depression lowers your mood, saps your enthusiasm and brings loss of energy, disturbed sleep and very often, high levels of anxiety.

How Yoga therapy helps with depression

YogaMood elevation

By encouraging a more up-right, open posture and by improving the way we breathe yoga can begin to lift mood and induce feelings of well-being. People with depression tend towards a rounded, stooped posture, which impedes breathing and leads to loss of energy and enthusiasm.

Raised energy levels

If energy levels are very low restorative yoga may be used which employs the use of props, such as bolsters and folded blankets, so the body can be gently opened, stretched and energised with minimal effort. On the other hand, if there is a lot of energy, which is manifesting in anxiety and agitation then a more vigorous practice may be needed to channel this energy before coming to a calmer state.

Lowered stress levels

Yoga can lower our stress levels by inducing a calming effect on both the body and the mind so making us less reactive in potentially stressful situations. People with depression can have an over-activated sympathetic nervous system (understanding the stress response) which can be calmed down over time through practise of simple breathing techniques, breath linked movements and deep relaxation. Over the longer term, meditation can help to strengthen the mind against unhelpful, repetitive thought patterns that can promote the stress response.

Calming anxiety

YogaAs our breathing is the first thing to be affected by anxiety, the key in yogic terms is managing the breath. Usually anxious people need to be taught to use their diaphragm correctly as this calms and slows the breath, which then, in turn calms the mind.

To enhance this process yoga provides simple breath linked movements so the mind, body and breath are experienced as one. As a result of this we feel more embodied and grounded and less likely to experience anxiety.

Yoga therapy and anti-depressants

Many people with depression are prescribed anti-depressants and Yoga therapy combines well with this approach. Such medication helps many people to lift out of their depression so they can function more effectively and have the energy and motivation to attend healthy activities like yoga.

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