Anxiety, heartbreak, loss, and frustration are all natural emotions that we experience at some point in our lives.
There are times when these emotions are manageable and other times when these emotions can spiral out of control into a form of depression.
Fortunately, yoga is one of the many tools that can help manage these mood fluctuations associated with depression.
What is depression?
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think, and behave.
If depression is not treated right away, it can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
How can yoga help with depression?
Yoga can also help by reducing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and teaching you how to utilize your breath.
The philosophy behind yoga also helps teach you to be in the moment and appreciate the good things in life instead of focusing on the negative.
Below are three yoga poses that can help you beat depression.
Sun Salutations can work through stagnate energy and allow you to move through life easily. By flowing from one pose to the next and connecting the breath with the body you will feel at ease.
Sanskrit: Suyra Namaskar
Step by step:
- Start at the top of your mat, with your feet together.
- Inhale as you reach your arms overhead in Mountain pose. Exhale as you fold forward.
- Inhale as you come to a half lift; bringing your hands to your knees and keeping a neutral spine and soft gaze.
- Exhale to Plank pose, slowly lowering down to Chaturanga Dandasana.
- Inhale into Upward-Facing Dog, keeping your elbows close to your body, drawing your abdominals in as you open your heart and draw your shoulders back.
- Exhale into Downward-Facing Dog, extending your hips to the sky and drawing energy through the hands and feet.
- Inhale as you extend your right leg to the sky. Exhale drawing your right foot to the top of the mat and coming into Low Lunge pose.
- Inhale as you rise up into Warrior I pose, reaching your hands overhead and sinking deep into your lunge.
- Exhale as you open out into Warrior II pose, maintaining your lunge and extending your arms in front and behind you. Inhale as you draw your elbow to your knee in Side Angle pose.
- Exhale, sweeping back into Reverse Warrior pose, extending your right arm up to the sky as you draw your left hand behind your left leg.
- Sweep your hands to the top of your mat, going into Chaturanga Dandasana or stepping back into a lunge repeating the poses on the left side of your body.
- Repeat this flow 3-6 times.
Expert tip: You can decrease the intensity of your Sun Salutation by skipping the Chaturanga Dandasana and stepping back into lunges.
This pose is considered to cure most ailments in the body and mind due to the restorative effects of reversing the flow of oxygen and blood.
Sanskrit: Viparita Karani
Step by step:
- Draw your yoga mat to the wall.
- Sit next to the wall with the side of your hips touching the wall. Extend your legs straight up. Settle in for 1-3 minutes.
- When you are ready to release, tuck your knees into your chest, roll to one side and slowly rise up.
By lying on your back with the soles of your feet together, you can enjoy the restorative benefits of this pose. Allowing your mind to clear, your chest to expand, and your back to feel the support of the earth below.
Sanskrit: Supta Baddha Konasana
Step by step:
- Start by lying on your mat.
- Draw the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to open to the edges of your mat.
- Bring your arms to your side and let them rest there.
- Hold for a few minutes while drawing deep, full breaths.
Expert tip: If you’d like, you can add a blanket or bolster under your spine to elevate your heart and allow for a deeper surrender.
Sanskrit: Shitali Pranayama
Step by step:
- Sitting in a comfortable position, take three deep breaths. Roll your tongue and inhale deeply through your mouth.
- Exhale through your nose. Do this until you feel the cooling effect.
Combining the body with the breath and mind is a beneficial way to help ease the effects of depression. If you are new to yoga, it’s important to take your time and try the various yoga styles that are available.