Yoga has gained a lot of recognition in physical and mental health wellness. Through different poses, you can improve certain aspects of your life. This includes mental health problems like depression and stress. The original intention for yoga was to relax the body and the mind in preparation for meditation. Mindfulness can help alleviate many of the problems we perceive in life. How we choose to look at things, what we choose to focus on is all a matter of paying close attention to where the mind goes to.
It takes a lot of discipline to keep your thinking positive or to let go of thoughts that don’t serve the moment you’re in. Yoga was developed to counterbalance those challenges we face with the mind and the physical body. Here is what yoga can do to help you with depression, stress, and the ability to be more mindful.
Yoga for Depression
Firstly, yoga can be quite a physical exercise. The poses, breathing, and meditation is all helpful therapy against the symptoms of depression. Physical activity of any kind increases your endorphin levels which are the happy chemicals in your brain. Depression symptoms like concentration issues and loss of energy are reduced through yoga.
There are a lot of people using yoga therapy to help them manage mood disorders such as depression. Scientific research has found that yoga is very beneficial for physical and mental health. A Boston study found that taking some classes two times per week could help ease depression. This has a lot to do with breathing that accompanies yoga.
The deep breathing in yoga was found to be helpful for adults with clinical depression. Whether they were taking antidepressants or not, there was an improvement. The study had participants taking a 90-minute Iyengar yoga class three days a week. They were also instructed to do 30-minutes session at home.
What they found 90 days later was that most people had a lowered scored of depression based on a screening questionnaire. About half of the depressive symptoms were gone. Many believe that even when a patient hasn’t responded to traditional treatments, they may fair well with yoga. Antidepressants don’t target the autonomic nervous system while the deep breathing of yoga does. A doctor explains that if your autonomic nervous system is balanced, the rest of the brain is going to work better.
Some of the essential poses that help ease depression include:
- Bound Angle Pose (BaddhaKonasana)
- Bridge Pose
- Corpse Pose (Savasana)
- Dolphin Pose
- Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Yoga for Stress and Anxiety
Yoga has been found to have a positive effect on your mood and anxiety level than other kinds of exercise. This is most likely because, through yoga, you are increasing the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This is the chemical that regulates nerve activity. It is what keeps you calm. If you have anxiety or other mood disorders, your GABA activity is reduced. There are drugs that can increase GABA activity and they are commonly prescribed. When given to patients, it decreases anxiety.
The issue with the pills is that there are side effects, including addiction to the medication. Another method to try is yoga. Through the breathing, the poses, and the mastery of your own mind, you can reduce anxiety. You can fix the damage done in the body by the rising of brain chemicals like cortisol. You can ease all the tension in muscles that are telling your brain there is something to fear. Yoga is a body/mind connection and helps with all types of mood disorders.
Yoga poses for anxiety include:
- Legs up the Wall
- Child’s Pose
- Seated Forward Bend
- Standing Forward Bend
- Cat/Cow Pose
Yoga for Mindfulness
Mindfulness is intertwined with yoga and is very effective in helping you with many health issues. It has become an important tool to combat a variety of mental and physical health problems. It is often practiced in yoga, especially at the end of class in savasana. You maximize the benefits of your yoga practice when you use mindfulness throughout it.
Mindfulness can only be achieved by being able to relax the muscles in the body. Yoga helps to rinse out old energy and toxins and also releases tension. The mind begins to slow down and this allows you to truly let go of your thoughts. Doing yoga consistently allows you to practice your mindfulness in a safe environment. Eventually, you can take that tool out into the real world. It’s all about practice. Daily practice it if possible. Yoga helps you get to the point where you’re really present in your body. The breath work in yoga allows you to be fully present in poses and in the moment.
Yoga can help you with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. It can help get you into the mental head space to take the moment in. Mindfulness has been found to be a powerful tool to help prevent further problems with anxiety and depression. By being aware and following your intuition, you can avoid some of the events in life that make things difficult. If difficulties occur that are out of your control, you can be in the moment and accept things. You have more clarity during moments of acute stress and are more confident in making choices quickly. Yoga is the foundation of that strength.