Ward off your depression with Yoga

“Yogas citta vrtti nirodha”

“Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind”

Depression is classified as a mood disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition, has defined depression as 5 or more of the following symptoms that are present for 2 or more weeks and cause significant emotional distress and/or impairment in functioning.

Symptoms are

  1. depressed or sad mood,
  2. short-tempered or easily annoyed,
  3. loss of interest or enjoyment in hobbies or activities that was previously enjoyed,
  4. feeling of worthlessness or guilt,
  5. thoughts of death or suicide,
  6. difficulty with concentrating or making decisions,
  7. feeling tired or fatigue,
  8. feeling restless or slow,
  9. changes in appetite such as overeating or loss of appetite,
  10. changes in weight such as weight loss or weight gain, and
  11. changes in sleep pattern.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression occurs due to a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

But the good news is that it can be treated if tackled early.

Some of the activities advised by Health hub Singapore to manage depression can be categorized in these few categories:

  • Socialize: spending time with friends and having fun, pursuing activities that you enjoy and are interested in, practicing acts of kindness which also helps to boost positive emotions.
  • Exercise: Taking care of your physical health, such as engaging in a physical activity you enjoy, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep.
  • Contemplate: making time to relax and enjoy yourself, organizing your time so you feel in control, Finding things to laugh about, learning ways to manage stress effectively, focusing on the things to be grateful for in life.
  • Communicate: Sharing your feelings with others, or writing them down in a journal to help clear your thoughts

I am sure you can already see how Yoga can bring about positive change in all these aspects of your life.

  • Yoga will not only help you get a good physical workout while doing various poses, increase flexibility, strength, and vitality. It will also get those endorphins flowing through your body.
  • It will also encourage you to respect your body by eating healthy and teaching you techniques to relax (restorative yoga, yoga nidra) and get a good sleep. There are specific breathing techniques as well as yoga asanas that can help one sleep better (child’s pose, forward bend, savasana, paschimottanasna, prasarita padottanasana, bridge pose and Viparita karni etc.).
  • If you got to a studio and practice with a bunch of people. It might give you the opportunity to make like minded friends who knows you might find people who you can share your troubles with.
  • Yoga preaches kindness as the single most important thing. Ahimsa is, being mindful to not think, speak or act in a harmful way to yourself or others. Hence, be kind.
  • Contemplation or deep reflective thought is almost a synonym to the yogic practice of meditation. Meditation involves concentration on a single thought, object or point. It opens the mind and develops the conditions that are ideal for contemplation and to the eventual goal of pure knowing.
  • Maybe communication is not a part of yoga in the literal sense but if you go deeper, yoga does teach you to talk and listen to your own body and mind better. It helps to be one with yourself. It teaches you to focus on your thoughts and calming them down through pratyahara, dharana and dhyana. It also teaches you to be present in the moment. If that’s not the most important skill in communication, then what is?

 

If you are still not fully convinced. I would urge you to take a look at dozens of scientific studies that have conclusively proven the beneficial effects of Yoga for depression.

Although most of the yoga asanas will help you with depression but some that the Yoga experts swear by are:

  • Tadasana/ Mountain pose
  • Adho mukha vrikshasana/ Hand stand
  • Adho mukha svanasana/ Downward facing dog
  • Viparita dandasana/ Backbends
  • Sarvangasana/ Shoulder stand
  • Setubandhasana/ Bridge pose
  • Shavasana

Just remember to do these with the full knowledge of the contraindications or in the presence of an expert yoga teacher.

So, what are you waiting for!? Grab that mat and stand tall in a mountain pose.