Yoga & Depression
Depression is one of
the most common mental
health problems in the world. Tens of millions of people across the planet
are diagnosed with some form of depression every year. While many cases of
depression are tied to personal issues that affect the emotions, some have
The first thing a depressed person stops
doing is moving. Regular exercise becomes intolerable. But
Yoga exercise, starting
with as few as three poses
a day in just a few minutes' time, coupled with correct breath patterns, can
become so pleasant to you that soon you will want to do more and more. Often
depression sneaks in slowly, as
patterns change from too much sitting at a desk,
stress, age, or
illness. The deep, invigorating breath techniques of Yoga bring large amounts
of fresh oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. Like a spring wind,
it blows through the system bringing new light and strength to the unused
parts of the body and mind where depression hides.
Another thing to be noted is that depression is one of the most treatable
of the mental illnesses, particularly if you get early intervention. There
are a variety of medications and talk therapy techniques in existence that
have great potential to ease your symptoms. A qualified mental health
professional can guide you toward the right treatment program for you.
Here we focus on Yoga asana to tackle depression.
The Lion Pose (Simhasana)
Contraindications: Knee pain or injury
This is a wonderful pose for gaining courage and lightening your emotional
load; the facial expressions involved are guaranteed to boost your mood.
Kneel on the floor; keep your knees about
Sit back on your heels; your
should be flat on the floor.
Spread the knees apart a little further; only move them as far as is
Straighten and lengthen the back and shoulders; sit up tall.
Without rounding the shoulders, place your hands loosely on your knees.
Inhale and lean forward slightly without compromising your straight spine.
While leaning forward, stretch your mouth and jaw open as wide as
possible. Extend your tongue and cross your eyes by looking at the tip of your
nose; also tense and straighten your fingers out from their resting place on
Hold this position for one breath and then relax; lean back and let your
fingers drop back to your knees. Close the mouth and eyes.
Repeat this posture at least three times with a short break in between
Benefits: The Lion is a great pose for loosening up the muscles of a
clenched or tight jaw. All the muscles of the face are used; each repetition
causes tension to melt away.
Releases tension and is also good for deep breathing and
Lie flat on your back, either on a mat or on a carpeted floor. Keep your
knees straight and keep your feet together with toes pointed to the ceiling.
Slide your hands under your thighs and buttocks. This motion should cause
your chest to bow upward slightly.
Bend the elbows and push them into the floor; use the bend of the elbows
and arms to raise the chest higher, keeping the chest arched upward.
chest is arched as high as possible, drop your head and rest the very top
of your head on the floor. Your chin should point to the ceiling.
While in this posture, breathe deeply and really enjoy the chest
expansion. Hold this position for as long as is comfortable.
Benefits: This is a great chest-opener; many people who have
depression coupled with anxiety often have feelings of tightness or pressure in
the chest—this pose can help ease the pressure. The Fish is also very beneficial
for a tense neck, shoulders and
The Child's Pose (Balasana)
A good, relaxing counter-pose if performed after the
Kneel on the floor, and then sit directly onto your heels.
Shift your knees until they are a little more than hip-width apart.
Bend forward at the hip; bring your chest to rest between your thighs.
Keep your buttocks in contact with your heels and rest your forehead on
the floor. If this is uncomfortable, rest your forehead on a cushion or folded
blanket-make sure it is high enough for you to be comfortable.
Stretch your arms out in front of you on either side of your head.
Lengthen the muscles as far as you can, really give a good stretch! Then slide
your arms back to your sides, palms up and relax.
Remain in this pose for as long as possible. Breathe deeply and relax into
Benefits: Child's pose is a comforting, peaceful asana. Staying in
this position is not only relaxing, but also promotes a feeling of safety and
security. The stretch involved to the lower back and arms also feels wonderful!
This yogasana is a great confidence booster; anytime you feel unsure of
yourself or uneasy, try this posture.
Stand tall with good
posture and plant
your feet about shoulder-width apart.
With your right foot, take a large step forward into a lunge; keep the
left foot firmly planted. Do not turn or rotate the hips.
Your right knee should be bent and you should keep the knee located
directly above the ankle. You should feel a good stretch in the calf muscle of
the left leg. If not, slide the left foot back an inch or so.
After achieving a good strong lunge, raise the arms above your head.
Really stretch them to the ceiling; feel that stretch all the way to your
fingertips. Relax a bit, keeping the arms up, and turn the palms facing each
To deepen the
carefully arch the back and look at the ceiling.
Repeat this posture at least once using the left leg for the lunge.
Benefits: This is a very easy asana, but also a very powerful one.
Warrior can help you feel more grounded. You can gain equilibrium both
mentally and physically, with this pose.
There's just no better way to end a yoga session than with the ultimate
Lie on your back on the floor (or on a mat). Spread the arms out to a 45
degree angle from your sides. Let your legs drop open. There should be no
tension in trying to hold this position, don't try to keep the toes pointed.
Keep your head resting comfortably.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Each breath should expand both the
chest and belly. Allow your entire body to feel heavy and soft; literally try
to relax into the floor.
Mentally look for places where your body is tense. Should you find
tension, focus on that part of the body, tense it and then release. Wiggle
your fingers and toes to remove any pressure or stress.
Try to clear your mind. Continue to breathe deeply and enjoy yourself.
Do not fall asleep; that isn't the goal here. Enjoy a conscious
state of deep relaxation.
Benefits: The benefits of this pose are truly endless. Nothing beats a
good bit of relaxation. Use this pose anytime you feel upset or blue. If it's
hard to get out of bed in the morning to face the day, use this posture to give
you a little better perspective. If you suffer from insomnia, this is a perfect
way to end the day.
Sun Gazing can also be a powerful technique of Yoga for depression and
There are many ways to relieve depression and you should always ask your
physician about which ways are best for you. Among the many options you might
have is through Yoga.
Meditating and Yoga exercises stimulate your circulation and nervous systems
along with other bodily functions. It also improves your
concentrate and energizes
your mind and body.