Can yoga help with depression?

A one-hour yoga sequence for mild depression/depressive phases

Yoga can heal. Both on the physical and spiritual level. Not without reason there is yoga therapy.

Yoga is a (life) practice in which one practices to reconcile the body, soul and mind, to find and feel one’s true self. Ultimately, connect our self with the “higher energies”.

For this to succeed, there is a suitable “yoga path” depending on the individual personality.

In the Western world, Raja or Hatha Yoga is best known. Here we find about working with the body to ourselves. Other yoga paths are Karma Yoga (Yoga of Action and the connection to it), Bhakti Yoga (Yoga of Devotion, e.g. by singing Matra and Kirtan together) and Jnana Yoga (studying yoga scriptures).

Yoga is much more than an hour of breathing and physical exercises, but rather a way of life in which one tries to integrate all aspects of yoga.

In addition to asanas (body postures), pranayama (energy/breathing exercises) and meditation, above all the correct and healthy handling of oneself and all other living beings (healthy nutrition, telling truth, staying clean, not stealing, being moderate, not exercising violence, etc.)

Depression is a disease of the nervous system in which chemical processes in the brain no longer function properly and thus negative feelings, thoughts and moods occur, in connection with exhaustion, lethargy and joylessness.

A careful yoga practice can help to prevent depression and improve general condition.

However, whether a cure for depression can happen through yoga depends on the expression and imprint of the disease. In Yoga we call repeated  and automated reactions to our own thoughts, emotions and feelings Samskaras. Most of the time, these reactions are recurring ways of doing things, that are deeply  imprinted in us. Whenever there is a certain feeling, we will increasingly react automatically with the same action. The Samskaras are getting stronger and stronger. Escaping this cycle requires a lot of (yoga) work.

Depending on the severity  of depression, a yogic lifestyle and practice can weaken or even cure the mental illness. For this, however, the cooperation with a yoga therapist is absolutely necessary and the practice should be accompanied by a professional yoga teacher or therapist, similar to psychotherapy.

Nevertheless, it is worth trying to create a yoga pratice through which one can counteract or even prevent a depressive condition.

In my yoga class I have the following elements built in:

  1. The Chanting of Mantras

The positively charged vibrations of the mantras relax body and mind.

  1. Kabal Bathi

The Shatkarma Kriya cleanses body and mind and creates space for positive energies.

  1. Bramari Pranayama during some exercises

The amount of bee humming during exhalation relaxes our body at the cellular level, activates our pituitary gland and pineal gland and thus balances our hormonal system and leads to a regulated melatonin and serotonin release, thus balancing our sleep rhythm and increasing the release of hormones which makes us happy.

In addition, Bramari Pranayama activates our higher 3 chakras, giving us better access to ourselves.

  1. Sun salute

With several round Surya Namaskar we come out of the lethargic state and get  going.

  1. Active Asanas

Physical asanas also help us to come back to life with strength.

  1. Active breathing

Through intensive breathing exercises such as Bhastrika, we can connect with the outside world through our breath.

  1. Heart-opening asanas

Back-bending activates the heart chakra, which allows us not only to receive love again, but above all to give ourselves self-love again.

  1. Inversions

Asanas like the shoulder stand, the wheel or the headstand support Udan Pran, that is the energy of unrestricted joy in us. In addition, the increased blood in the brain in turn balances our hormonal system.

  1. Final relaxation

At least 5 to 10 minutes of relaxation in Shavasana will help us to get in harmony with body and mind. At Shavasana we let go completely and just let it happen. This is how we learn that we are a small part of a whole – belonging and healthy.

  1. Analoma Viloma with focus on the Third Eye

Through Analoma Viloma we bring our energies into balance and our minds to rest.

  1. Meditation Ajna Chakra

Through meditation with a focus on the third eye, we come to rest, find a focus and gain insights and satisfaction.

This yoga class corresponds to a holistic yoga practice that combines all aspects of yoga.

It should take away the heaviness and give back joy, lightness and confidence to our lives, as well as restore contact with our innermost.

This yoga class is suitable for everyone, even as a regular yoga practice. In case of severe depression, please contact a doctor or therapist in advance.


Yoga for countering depressive states

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