yoga and depressionBy Kimaya Singh

Anyone who has been caught in the pit of depression knows that it can be a challenge to climb out of. Yoga has many known health benefits and now you can add anti-depressant to the list. Here are five ways that yoga helps boost depressive moods and contribute to mental wellness.

Tame the Stress Lion

Yoga has long been extolled as the ultimate stress relief exercise for its focus on meditation and breath control. Off the mat these two practices are commonplace tools for reducing stress when it arises. During class students focus more on their bodies and can forget any negative mental chatter that they may have.

How Yoga Reduces Stress and Anxiety Physically

There is no doubt that most people walk out of a yoga class feeling better than when they walked in despite how challenging they found some asanas. Stretching muscles and the calm focused breath stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which in return loosens muscle tension and lowers blood pressure and heart rate.

How Yoga Practice Busts Stress Mentally

Hormonal and chemical imbalances are the technical causes of depression. Moving through a sequence of asanas helps to turn the tables by activating the release of adrenaline, cortisol and dopamine, which are the feel-good hormones. These hormones help the mind feel better and relax rather than feeling stressed and on edge.

Yoga Cultivates Body Awareness

Depression and anxiety attacks share a distinct link. A regular yoga practice helps practitioners to become more aware of their bodies and what they are feeling in a given moment. Over time people began to recognize the signs of an oncoming panic attack or depressive mood and can take preventative action before experiencing a moody crash.

Some Uplifting Asanas to Try

Having an asana to help bust stress can be a powerful tool. Here are some suggestions of poses that work well in calming depression.

  • Forward Bend – A good way to calm mental chatter.
  • Legs-up-the-wall – This is a good pose for general relaxation as well.
  • Corpse pose – A fitting pose to eliminate stress and just be present.

While studies have shown that yoga is effective as a way to manage depression, anxiety and stress it should not be used as an alternative to necessary medical treatment. Yoga makes an excellent supplemental addition to medical treatment and regular counseling when dealing with depression and anxiety.

Yoga As an Adjunct Therapy for Depression

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