Over the last few decades, a number of studies have concluded that yoga is a useful treatment for some diseases. Now, more evidence seems to suggest that yoga can be effective for treating depression.
Several medical and scientific studies on yoga indicate that conditions including osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, drug addiction, and mental health issues can be treated with this form of exercise. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that stands for “unity of mind and body.” It has been used in Eastern societies going back 5,000 years. In recent years, Western countries like the United States have embraced the practice of yoga.
Because anxiety and depression is a strong feature of modern lifestyle and since many drug treatments are ineffective, medical experts are looking for non-pharmacological approaches to treating patients. Numerous studies suggest that yoga for depression makes sense since it seems to improve psychological conditions and specifically helps people manage stress and negative thoughts.
Yoga poses for depression seem to increase blood circulation to the brain and allow for the production of mood-elevating hormones. However, since the definitive reason for the effect of yoga on anxiety and depression remains unclear, it is usually recommended as a complementary treatment. The study of the long-term use of yoga for anxiety, stress, and depression is ongoing.
How Can Yoga Benefit Depression?
When asked, is yoga good for depression, many doctors will explain both the physical and mental reactions of the human body. The meditation aspect of yoga helps bring you into the present moment to allow you to clear your mind. The movement part of yoga helps to strengthen the body-mind connection. Breathing exercises can be part of yoga exercises for depression. Some studies indicate breathing exercises are very effective in reducing symptoms of depression.
As explained in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, serotonin production plays a key role in the treatment of depression. Research suggests that people with depression have lower serotonin levels, but yoga can be a natural way to increase serotonin production.
The fact that yoga is a gentle, fluid type of exercise makes it easy to induce a sense of calm and increase stress tolerance, which can minimize anxiety. People of all ages and fitness levels can practice it as a form of mindful, low-impact exercise.
Yoga Poses for Depression
There is a yoga sequence for depression that you can follow on a daily basis, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t gain benefits if you don’t follow the exact sequence. Any series of yoga poses can help the body and mind.
The following are yoga exercises for depression:
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose is a well-known stress reliever, as it stretches the lower back and hips. First, you sit on your heels with your big toes touching and hands resting on your thighs. You lower your belly and chest so that they rest between your knees, bringing your forehead to the floor. Relax your arms beside your shins with your palms facing up. Take five to 10 long, deep inhalations and then exhale.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Said to boost energy, this exercise calls for you to slowly slide forward from the Child’s Pose to lay face down. Press your toes and forehead gently into the floor while resting your palms on the floor on either side of your chest. Inhale and lift your chest from the heart while pressing just lightly into your palms. Use mostly your back to hold your shoulders and chest up. You then soften your shoulders and lift your hands off the floor completely, broadening your collarbone. Take a few deep breaths, then exhale and place your palms back down and lower your chest carefully to the floor.
Downward- Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose can reduce fatigue. From the Cobra, you position yourself onto all fours. Your knees should be hip-width apart and your wrists should be slightly forward while your toes curl under. Exhale and spread your fingers wide. Lift your knees to reach your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your legs bent slightly. Push the tops of your thighs back so your body looks like an inverted “V.” At this point, slowly start to straighten your legs. Gently move your chest back toward your thighs until your ears are even with your upper arms.
Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
The Warrior I is supposed to ease stress and anxiety while strengthening your core. Following the Downward Facing Dog, you can pivot your left heel down to the floor. Your toes should be pointing out to the left. Place your right foot forward between your hands, lining your front heel up with your back. Now inhale and lift your arms overhead with your palms facing each other. Exhale as you bend your front knee to about 90 degrees and turn your hips toward your right leg. You should inhale as you reach your arms up higher. Hold for three to 10 slow breaths.
Reverse Warrior Pose (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
From the warrior you can turn your hips to face the side but keep your right knee bent. Lower your left hand so that it rests on your left leg and turn your right palm toward the ceiling as you reach your right arm up overhead, reaching back behind you. Let your left hand slide down toward your left ankle. Look up at the ceiling. Maintain this position for 3 to 5 deep breaths.
This is the point in the sequence where you can go from Reverse Warrior back to Downward-Facing Dog but transition to the other side. You will be repeating the steps of Warrior with your left leg forward.
Bridge Pose (Sethu Bandhasana)
This mood-boosting yoga exercise works well coming out of the Child’s Pose. You roll up to a seated position and drop your hips over to the left to sit on the floor. Extend your legs out in front of you and then slowly roll down onto your back. Bend your knees and position your feet flat on the floor while placing your palms face down. Inhale as you lift your hips. You can place your hands together and press your shoulders and upper arms into the floor. Lift your hips higher and point your tailbone toward your knees. Squeeze your thighs. Hold for 5 to 7 breaths and then lower back to the floor.
Supported Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This pose can help relax tension. All you have to do is place a folded blanket or firm pillow lengthwise behind you so when you lie back it touches under the tip of your shoulder blades (mid-back.) This can lengthen the spine as you arch the upper and middle back. Move your arms away from your body and turn palms face up. Place your legs at a comfortable distance apart. You can then begin a mental scan of the body from head to toe. Think about releasing the tension from each section of your body.
Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
This is a popular yoga pose that is known to have a rejuvenating impact on the body. You lie on the floor with your face down and your toes facing downward. Place your palms near your chest, facing down. Your face should be either straight or facing upwards while your shoulders are away from your ears. Let your chest rise.
Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana)
The Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold Pose can release tension in the back, neck, and shoulders. Some people suggest it improves blood circulation. You can do this yoga exercise for depression by standing straight with your arms alongside your body and your feet at arms’ length. You then place your arms on your hips and bend forward at the hips. Get your head and chest to touch your thighs. The next move is to bring your hands down and put them beside your feet or hold your ankles from behind. Remember to keep your thighs straight.
Mountain Pose with Arms Overhead
This is traditionally known as Urdhva Hastasana in Tadasana. While it may sound complicated, it is actually a simple yoga exercise. You stand in a mountain like pose with your feet hip-distance apart and lift up through the legs and torso. Stretch your arms overhead. You should be lengthening and spreading the fingers and toes. This is considered a good warm-up or wind-down posture.
Yoga is a form of exercise that began several thousand years ago. While many historians suggest that it started out as a spiritual practice, over time, the physical benefits of yoga became evident. Today, yoga is practiced and prescribed all over the world due to its health benefits. In recent years, there has been more research into yoga as an exercise to combat depression and more people diagnosed with depression have reported using yoga to help keep their anxiety under control.
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