Yoga and Depression
According to the Office of National Stats, as of April 2017 1 in 4 people suffer with depression, that statistic is worrying. Just knowing that on your day to day travels people around you are not feeling happy inside, and in many cases, can be suffering in silence without any form of therapy or help.
From my relationship with yoga and depression, I know it can stem from many different problems and issues you are facing in your life. This article isn’t about analysing those, or going into too much depth about how depression can arise, but it is more about how Yoga can be a form of combat.
When Yoga was first mentioned in the old sacred texts, the Rig Veda almost 5000 years ago, who would have thought it would of travelled the world in such blessing. In the Western world, Yoga studios are everywhere, and we hear of so many success stories and happy people that obtain and learn a true source of good feeling from the practice. This fantastic feeling is the reason why so many people have truly benefited from the practice when going through forms of depression.
When I started my path in Yoga I was suffering from a heavy trauma to my knee. This effected me physically but as time went I realised more so that my mental health was hit hard. I was in and out of depressive states for a while. Luckily, I was a keen Yogi and was practicing Yoga before my accident and straight after it to recuperate, and I thank the Yoga for allowing me to tackle my personal depression, and really learn to deal with how I was feeling.
Breaking down the Yoga & how it helps:
From personal practice (which has been predominantly Bikram yoga) and speaking to the wonderful Marylou McDonnell, here are some postures (with explanation) that help with depression:
Hands to Feet Pose (Pada-hastasana) – Improves blood circulation to the brain, which helps with depression and anxiety by bringing mental clarity and enhancing memory.
Standing Separate Leg Stretching (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana) – This posture increases blood circulation to the brain and to the adrenal glands, bringing mental clarity and enhancing memory. This really helps with depression because it allows one to think straight and understand the root of why they are feeling down so we can then actually deal with that problem.
Standing Separate Leg Forehead to Knee (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana) – Improves blood circulation to the brain, helping with depression and anxiety. Gives relief from tension headaches/migraine. Helps to balance the metabolism and regulate appetite.
Half Tortoise Pose (Ardha-Kurmasana) – Provides maximum relaxation., fantastic for indigestion, constipation and insomnia. This posture also increases blood flow to the brain bringing mental clarity and enhancing memory.
Dead Body Pose – Final Savasana – The final Savasana is the most important part of the lot. Here we soak up all the benefits of our practice and fully relax, accepting what we did today knowing that it was enough and that we are better for having practiced. That is a wonderful, uplifting feeling.
Some more information
These are just a few postures that really help focus on the feeling of depression, and help tackle the problem to bring a healthier mind state, healthier body and better attitude into the mind. Which as a complete sequence (the Bikram method) really help people fight and for many overcome depression and depressive states.
As you go through life, you are challenged in many ways and this starts right from birth, and sometimes some of us do get lost or do fall into bad places, and those bad places. These places can include physical health, and also mental health, with depression being one of the most common mental health issues, understanding that not only will the Bikram Yoga method help you but all forms of practice will, such as Vinyasa, Yin, Nindra and the list goes on.
Mental wellness is something we take seriously at Kula, and in the world today we have so much more understanding, instead of suffering or taking possible medication why not try Yoga first and see how you get on. From my personal experience Yoga stopped me from medication and I would say changed my life, it can do the same for you.
Something special from Marylou
“Yoga as a practice, whichever method(s) we choose to practice, helps to quiet the mind and cut through negative patterns. Each person will find the one(s) that work best for them. Kula has choices to offer so we can try different methods and work out which one(s) best suit our mind, body and spirit for a happy, healthier life”.
Thank you, and if anybody has any questions or wants to just talk about this post or anything else, please reach me on [email protected], and/or just say hi at the studio, I am always around.