The word “YOGA” is derived from a Sanskrit word “yuj”, meaning to join or to unite. Basically yoga means a union.The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. Yoga originates in ancient India, mainly in the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1900 BCE) and pre-Vedic Eastern states of India. The influential Swami Vivekananda is often credited with introducing Yoga to the West, who demonstrated Yoga postures at a World Fair in Chicago in the 1890s. That was way back in 18th century and today 21st June is celebrated as world Yoga Day. Yoga has come a long way since then.
Yoga and depression
Depression is generally associated with long term stress and mental fatigue. Anyone who has suffered from depression or is dealing with it knows how it can affect anyone’s life. Depression totally destroys one’s normal life. People with depression see no end to fear, anxiety, unhappiness, sadness, exhaustion, tremors, nervousness, worries and all those mental issues. The feeling of unhappiness or sadness is not getting any medical recognition, even though mental health is as equally important as the physical health. People with depression confine themselves to a separate zone and detach themselves from all those hustle bustle or the social life. They prefer being alone, being on their own but this does not help to fight away depression. People get more reclusive, more secretive and these things are add fuel on the fire. Sometimes the depression gets more acute and severe. People often develop suicidal tendencies. At that time they are advised to take antidepressants drugs. But those drugs have several side effects and the effects of antidepressants drugs are highly questionable! One can feel better with it while some other does not get any help from it.
Yoga is found to be a healthy and suitable natural therapy to deal with depression. It helps to “choomantar” (vanish) the worries of anyone’s life. Yoga has reached its mark in western culture too. People of western civilization have happily adopted the side effect free, tradition of yoga!
How effective is yoga for depresion?
Studies show that yoga therapy can help with stress, anxiety, and depression. The focus on deep breathing and stretching your body is effective for relieving the sign and symptoms of depression.
Yoga is a physical activity and exercise that involves different parts of a human body, the poses and postures, the breathing technique and meditation. This therapy helps you to release the negative energy from your mind and soul and helps you feel more positive towards life. Yoga helps to boost brain’s dopamine level and provides endorphins. Dopamine is the hormone that plays several important roles in the mind and body. Yoga helps to fight away the depression by calming our nervous system, decreasing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, using breathing techniques like deep and slow breathing and relaxing our muscle. Yoga helps to redistributes the blood flow of a human body by the postures and poses and movements of body muscles that are involved in yoga therapy and improves the function of circulatory system.
People with depression cannot solely depend on or rely on yoga but it is one of the best ways to erase the “ghost of depression” from people’s mind. Unlike antidepressants which have side effects , yoga doesn’t cause any harm to people. So beat the depression in traditional way.
The yoga consists of several yoga asana, the most common and effective 11 asanas to fight off the depression are as follows: –
Top 11 Yoga Poses to Fight Depression
The most popular, common and useful asana to fight against depression is pranayama. Pranayama is a sanskrit word alternatively translated as extension of the prana or breath control. This asana involves the breathing technique. For this asana you have to take deep breath through your nostrils and feel your diaphragm moving downwards as your lungs expand to allow more air to come in and collar bones rise up. While slowly breathing out, collar bones are to be dropped; lungs get collapsed and deflate your chest.
This asana helps to control our mind, calm and uplift our soul. This asana helps to erase the negative thoughts from our mind and increase the concentration power.
Matsyasana or fish pose is commonly considered a counterasana to sarvangasana or shoulder stand specifically within the context of the ashtanga vinyasa yoga primary series. To practice this asana you have to sit in the padmasana position, where your left foot is placed on the right thigh and right foot placed on the left thigh, after that slowly lift your back as much as you can with your head touching the ground. You need to hold your big toes of your feet with your finger.
This asana stimulates the pituitary gland; it helps to regulates emotion and provides a sense of wellbeing.
Balasana is often referred as child’s pose or child’s resting pose. In this asana you have to sit on your heels with your big toes touching and the knees should be aligned with the hip. Then you have to bend forward with the arms and lie on the ground with arms alongside and palms facing the ceiling. You have to remain in this posture for 3 to 5 minutes.
This asana is most effective in relieving stress and fatigue.
Bhujangasana or cobra pose is an useful asana for the mind. In this pose you have to slide forward and raise your chest and make a cobra like position. The shoulder should be away from the ears and elbows can be bent and your face should be towards the ceiling.
This asana helps to concentrate better, increase energy and erase anxiety.
In this asana you need to breathe out and lift your tail bone and hipbone upwards forming an inverted v. The chest of yours should be facing downwards. This asana often termed as mountain pose.
This asana helps to revitalizes our system and is one of the best postures to lift up our spirit.
This asana is usually referred to as warrior pose. In this asana you need to stand straight and turn your right leg in the right direction and push your left leg in backward direction. After that you need to raise your hand in prayer position and stretch above your head. Remain in this position for 3 to 5 minute then do it on left leg.
This asana helps to strengthens you mind and soul and fights anxiety.
This has to be started with the mountain pose. Stand upright with your right ankle facing outwards and left ankle facing slightly inwards. Spread out your arms so they are parallel to the ground. Breathe out and bend the front knee which should be in line with the front foot. After that lower your hips and lift your thigh so it also is parallel to the ground. With the next exhale, bring your left hand to the back and rest it on your left thigh. Take a deep breath and raise your right arm towards the ceiling. The right arm should be placed very close to the ear. Keep your front knee bent and hips lowered, shift your left hand gradually onto your leg from your thigh and bend back slightly. Your face should be facing upwards looking fingers of the right hand.
It stimulates blood flow to all parts of the body and improves self-esteem and perseverance.
in this asana you have to lie on the floor on your belly, then bend your legs from your knees and lift them up from behind. Curve your back and try to hold your legs with your hands. This pose is a great stress and anxiety buster.
it stimulates the reproductive organs and also provides relief from headache.
Place one bolster or rolled-up, folded blanket on another in the form of a plus sign.then lie down lengthwise on the top of the bolster with your knees slightly bent. Slide gradually until your shoulder touches the ground. Spread your arms on the sides and straighten your legs and lift your chest.
It is one of the useful asana to fight off the depression.
In this asana you need to breathe deeply with folded hands. This oxygenates our entire body and boosts our metabolism.
In savasana which is often referred as corpse pose. You need to lie on your back and keep your legs apart. Your arms should be resting beside your body and eyes should be closed. Focus on your entire body, this way your entire body will be able to relax. This asana is usually done at the end of a yoga practice.
This asana helps to relax your body and mind and make you calmer and composed.
Last but not the least you need to remember that you are the source of your own happiness; no one can take away that from you. You need to remember three words – live, laugh and love. Practice these yoga asanas in an open environment with fresh air, bring positivity in your soul and remove all the negative thoughts and bid a farewell to your nasty depression.
The complete book of yoga by swami vivekananda
Light on pranayama by b.k.s. Iyengar