What is depression?
It is a medical illness that negatively affects your life, the way you think, feel, and behave. It can be the cause of sadness and the loss of interest in activities that you may have once enjoyed. It can also lead to a number of emotional and physical problems which lead to decreased functionality at work and at home. It can cause loss of appetite, weight gain, slowed movements, slowed speech, difficulty in decision making, and in more severe cases, thoughts of death and suicide. The symptoms can be according to the severity of the illness and must last for at least two weeks in order to diagnose it as depression.
It is important to understand that depression is different form bereavement. While loss can cause feelings of sadness, we need to remember that being sad is not the same as having depression. Although some may express that they are depressed when they are sad, there is definitely a link between the two. While the symptoms of grief or sadness are temporary, the symptoms of depression take a toll on one’s life for a longer more strenuous period of time.
While researchers are unable to pin point the exact cause for depression, it is noted that it may be due to psychology, genetics, the environment of an individual, or even basic biological factors. It could also be linked to a traumatic past but in most cases there isn’t an obvious cause.
11 Amazing Benefits of Yoga for Treating Depression
The basic essence of yoga is to help your body naturally heal. Although there may be various schools, most sessions include breathing exercises, meditation and postures (aasanas) which help stretch out different muscles.
Yoga has also proven to be quite therapeutic. It helps concentrate on positive energies which in turn helps the individual become more positive overall. As we already know, depression feeds off of negativity and negatively affects your life and well-being. Yoga helps counter than negativity with its meditative processes. Here are a few of the benefits that you can get while practicing yoga for anxiety and depression.
Relieves stress and anxiety
We as humans, face various forms of stress and anxiety which in turn affects your body and its functionality. This can easily be countered with the meditative and muscle relaxing practice of yoga. The fluidity of this practice has helped reduce stress effectively and continues to be recommended by many health specialists.
As mentioned above, depression takes a negative toll on one’s mood which can lead to anxiety. Meditation before starting your day with yoga can help improve your mood for the rest of the day. Although overcoming depression is a gradual process, daily meditation can aid in this process.
Helps lower depression directly
The practicing of yoga for depression and anxiety helps reduce the stress that may follow depression which in turn lowers the levels of depression itself. This takes you one step closer to defeating the illness.
To stay positive, it is important to help your mind focus on the now. Practicing yoga on a daily basis helps with just that. To connect with one’s self and emotions.
Depression tends to reduce concentration while yoga helps regain it. Loss of motivation and purpose is a common side effect of depression. The meditative process of yoga for depression and anxiety can help concentrate on a decision and pursue it.
Improves quality of life
A certain study followed women with breast cancer to observe how 8 weeks of yoga could make a difference. The results of which showed women mentioning reduction of pain as well as increased levels of acceptance and relaxation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17349503/)
Could promote sleep quality
Poor sleep quality has often been associated as a symptom of depression. The practice of yoga can help regulate the individuals sleep cycle which in turn helps improve the quality of sleep. Results of a study conducted in 2005 showed how a group of elderly patients practicing yoga fell asleep faster compared to those who chose to be a part of the control group or take a herbal preparation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15937373/)
May relieve migraines
As migraines are a side effect of anxiety, yoga can help reduce and relieve it. Generally people tend to relieve migraines with medication. However, yoga is a great natural alternative to it.
Promotes healthy eating habits
Lack of appetite is one of the most alarming symptoms of depression as it can affect not just your mind but your body as well. Regular practice of yoga helps promote a healthier eating habit which is a long term benefit.
A known benefit of yoga is that it helps increase ones strength. Although this may seem unimportant, it is quite relevant for those with depression. The loss of strength is related to loss of interest in any kind of activities. This strength can be restored through yoga.
Yoga helps unite your mind and your body. While depression may pull you away from social interactions, yoga helps you feel more connected with others. Here are a few examples of yoga poses for depression that can help you fight this illness.
- Adho Mukha Vrasasana (handstand)
- Warrior II
- Sun salutation
- Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward dog)
- Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-wall pose)
While yoga aids in dealing with depression, it is critical to note that it isn’t the solution. If you or anyone you love is going through depression, make sure to contact the mental health specialist to fight this illness and overcome it. There are also various hotlines that can be contacted in emergency situations, like your local emergency helpline, to guide you through the situation. Our minds are our worst enemies and its okay to get help. This being said, practicing yoga for depression and anxiety can help transform those negative thoughts while fighting depression.