Can Yoga Relieve Depression?
That’s a huge question. And the short answer is YES.
Alright, that’s it go do Yoga and be happy…
If you’re like me you want more information and the longer answer.
As a mental health counselor and a yoga teacher, I have personally seen yoga decrease depression with my students and clients. And over time yoga has to lead to overall better mental health for individuals who practice yoga regularly.
The ways yoga could alleviating depression are:
1. Creates human connection and a sense of community when you want to isolate.
In a class setting even if you don’t speak to another person before, after, or during class, you will be surrounded by people giving off positivity.
There is an urge to isolate when depressed and going places where you can socialize is beneficial.
Taking a yoga class gives you the chance to socially interact as much or as little as you want.
2. Gets you moving even though you want to stay in bed.
The physical movement will increase mobility and circulation.
Endorphins and other feel-good chemicals will be released helping you feel better.
Also by switching your focus on your body, it will take your mind off the hamster wheel in your head.
3. Sense of accomplishment
Each class gives you an opportunity to take a posture, sequence, mantra, or breathing technique to the next level or maybe even learn something new.
Yoga is a lifelong journey with ebbs and flows.
Just making it to your mat is something to rejoice because you are taking care of yourself.
The final resting pose, called Savasana, is many people favorite posture in a class.
To do the pose lie flat on your back or with a few props if that feels better. As you lie on your back and close your eyes it is a chance to relax, say a mantra, or maybe take a quick nap.
If you have difficulty relaxing during this pose try a more vigorous class that will exhaust you. Trust me it’s harder to think when you’ve been physically working hard.
Pranayama is yogic breathing and there are a few specific techniques. It could be as basic as the teacher telling you when to inhale and exhale with a posture.
Or more advanced techniques that will have you holding your breath in or out, using counting breaths, using your hands, or placing focus on different areas of your body.
No matter what technique it is using your breath in a way that is unlike your normal breathing pattern.
This is awesome because focusing on breathing and moving will get you out of your head for at least a little while. Plus the breathing will increase the oxygen in the blood which has many health benefits.
Yoga works through your body, breath, and mind to bring you to a more restful and present space. When you don’t want to go because you’re feeling sad and tired that is exactly when you should force yourself to go.
Yoga will help with your mental state but if you need more then go speak to a mental health professional as well. There are so many treatment options available from treatment centers, talk therapy, medication, acupuncture, yoga therapy, and countless other options to try. The first step is asking for help and the second is keeping an open heart and mind.
Love and Light- Emily