preventing depressionBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Can Yoga be a cure for anything?  Can Yoga really help in preventing depression? To be clear, Yoga is a good adjunct therapy for preventing depression, but it is not a cure. Let’s take a look at some solutions for depression and see how Yoga can be useful.  While it is true that depression is not always preventable, there are many cases, when using the following ideas, will keep you in good spirits – most of the time. Unfortunately, we cannot be happy all of the time, but there is something we can do about it. Working with a variety of clients over the years, I have seen how Yoga training and physical exercise changed, and continue to change, them for the better.  It is a well-known fact that endorphins are produced from a variety of exercise routines, including gentle Restorative Yoga or vigorous Vinyasa Yoga.


Endorphins reduce stress and enhance good moods.  Just that information alone is enough to start practicing Yoga, but weight control, muscle-tone, circulation, flexibility and a variety of other health benefits, should be an incentive to enter a gentle Yoga class.  If you have been inactive, I suggest a beginner class with a very mild-mannered Yoga teacher. Without pushing this any further, let’s look at other options to start, and things to avoid. Remember that your strategy for coping is different from preventing depression and you should be consulting with a professional.


Ideas to Lift Your Spirits

Participate in social activities, support groups, senior centers, or local church activities. The activities could be in your local mosque, temple, or shrine, as well. There is always an activity that you can find around any religious center.  If you are not sure where to start, religious centers always have something positive going on, all year long.  You could also join a league for golf, tennis, fishing, bowling, bocce, or any other activity where people gather to share a few laughs. Take competition in stride, and don’t take anything too serious.


Many social groups also function as support groups. The collective activity is good for all involved. Stay away from alcohol drinking clubs.  This is not just bars, or nightclubs, but local clubs, who organize for the common good, and then, routinely get together to drink.  There is a conflict here, in that alcohol is a depressant, and if you are prone to depression, this is not a good combination. On top of that, there are plenty of health problems that accompany alcohol abuse.


Substance abuse is not a solution to depression, and you won’t find a purpose in life through it. So, let’s keep it simple and stay away from drinking alcohol – altogether.  If your friends and family abuse alcohol, they need counseling, and you will have to look outside your normal circles to get guidance. You need to surround yourself with positive and energetic people.


Also, don’t hang around your house too much, especially in dark or unlit areas. Get outside, take a walk, go shopping, get a little sunlight, and if you are in the house all day, open the curtains during daylight hours. If you have a sunroom to relax in – that is good, too. Lack of sunlight can cause elevated levels of melatonin, which is sometimes called the sleep hormone.


Here’s an old fashioned idea:Visit the self-improvement section of your local bookstore.  It is a hidden treasure within itself. This is a great reason to leave the house.  Audio books are also good for traveling in your car or listening to in your sunroom. Pick out books that really captivate your imagination. If your local bookstore has useful products, you may also want to pick up some relaxing music for your ride home.



There are many types of depression and some are life threatening.  Most people are familiar with postpartum depression, but that is just one type of depression. There are times when counseling is your absolute best option for coping with or preventing depression.  Many people have different feelings or objections in regard to counseling, but if one is dealing with major or clinical depression the best decision is to seek professional or medical counseling immediately.


Advice for Teachers

Even though prenatal and postnatal courses may cover postpartum depression, there is no Yoga teacher training course in existence that gives instructors the ability to professionally advise a student with clinical depression.  For some of us, coping with and preventing depression can be a life-long struggle. Unless, you are a psychiatrist, psychologist or a medical doctor, you should point students in the safest direction toward professional counseling.  If a person is in a high risk category, there is no time to waste.

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