Yoga for Management of Depression

Yoga in Rishikesh

Yoga practices are known to play a significant role in maintaining the mental health , Depression one of the most prevalent issues of the mental health  which is effectively manageable with yoga practice and the application of its principles.

Before we start discussing how yoga can help people who are fighting with depression, it is crucial to understand what depression actually is.

Depression can be defined as the persistent feeing of sadness coupled with loneliness and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed doing. It is a serious and common medical illness which adversely affects the way you feel and the way you think. Unlike a regular bout of sadness, depression may last for weeks and sometimes months. Depression interrupts with your daily routine and makes tasks such as getting up and coming out of the bed utterly difficult. The only good thing about it is that it’s curable.

Causes of depression

The cause of depression is yet to be completely understood. But it can be said that depression is the result of a complex combination of various factors such as:

  • Genetics
  • Biological
  • Psychosocial (psychological and social)
  • Environmental

Some people are at a higher risk of acquiring depression than others due to some factors such as:

  • Life events- bereavement, relationship issues with family and friends, divorce, financial problems, work issues, medical conditions or acute stress.
  • Personality- people who have experienced trauma in a previous life or those with poor coping strategies.
  • Genetic factors- people who have a first-degree relative suffering from depression are at a higher risk.
  • Childhood trauma
  • Prescription drugs- such as beta blockers, corticosteroids and others.
  • Abuse of recreational drugs (such as amphetamines and alcohol) – drug abuse is greatly associated with depression. These can either result in depression or accompany it.
  • A past head injury or trauma.
  • People who have had a previous episode of depression are at a higher risk of developing it again.
  • People suffering from serious health conditions such as chronic pain syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Symptoms of depression

  • Bout of sadness and a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Change in appetite (eating too less or too much)
  • Change in weight (weight loss or weight gain)
  • Troubled sleeping (sleeping too much or too less)
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Difficulty in concentrating, thinking and making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts

Treatments for depression

As I mentioned above the only good thing about depression is that it can be cured. The most common types of treatments for curing depression are:

  • Medication- antidepressants
  • Psychotherapy- talking therapies
  • Support- discussing the problems and finding out suitable solutions with the help of family members and friends to treat the depression from the root

How can yoga help with treating depression?

Yoga in the modern world is capable of preventing and treating a lot of disease and health conditions, depression being one of them. But it is important to keep in mind that yoga is not a direct treatment for curing depression. Only when coupled with other common treatments it can help in reducing the symptoms gradually. Regular practice of yoga helps in keeping the mind calm and relaxed. It also imparts you with the strength to face difficult situations in life without panicking or getting restless. Yoga practice for treating depression should ideally include-

  1. Yoga asanas– Yoga asanas or yoga postures can help in acquiring a healthy and happy mind as they help in releasing tension and negativity from the system. Poses which work wonders for treating depression are:
  • Dhanurasana
  • Janu Shirsasana
  • Matsyasana
  • Setubandhasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Marjariasana
  • Adhomukha Shwanasana
  • Hastapadasana
  • Shirshasana
  • Shavasana
  1. Pranayama- Breathing is such an important body function and is indispensable to life and survival. Yet we pay no attention to it. But paying attention to our breathing, even if it for a short span of time can help greatly with de-cluttering the mind of any sad, destructive thoughts. It also makes you aware of your survival and be grateful about it. there are different types of pranayama that you can try, such as:
  • Kapal Bhati Kriya
  • Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Bhramari Pranayama
  1. Meditation- Meditation is one technique which helps greatly in relaxing a depressed and distracted mind. It makes you calmer while imparting peace to your mind. With regular practice of meditation, you will notice your anxious and depressed self, getting more and more content, cheerful and happy. Dedicate at least 15-20 minutes every day to meditation and you are sure to notice a considerable difference in the amount of stress and tension.

Yoga cannot solely cure depression especially chronic depression cases. It should be coupled with proper medical diagnosis and treatment to get the maximum results. Yoga can either be practiced at home or you can also join a yoga school. Joining a beginners yoga course is a great option as you can learn the basics of yoga and then practice it at the comfort of your home whenever you want. Try to maintain a close bond with your family and friends and share your feelings with them. Surround yourself with people who love you and care for you. Always remember that joy, peace and happiness dwell only in a positive mind.