The regular practice of Yoga offers tremendous support to help ease Depression, Anxiety and any other Mental Health conditions.
Scientific research proved that Yoga based exercise increases blood circulation to the brain, especially areas like the amygdala and hippocampus — which both have roles in controlling motivation, mood and response to stress as well as regulating the production of Endorphins, the feel-good hormone.
Yoga affects the regulation of the body’s central stress response, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis as well as improving sleep quality.
But yoga is also a spiritual discipline, designed to melt body and mind. A yoga lifestyle incorporates physical postures, breath regulation and mindfulness through the practice of meditation.
Yogic philosophy teaches that the body, mind and spirit are all interconnected so that when we exercise in a mindful, purposeful way, we affect not only our bodies but also our emotional state, our body’s physiology and even our mental outlook and when we exercise one area of the body we reap the benefits in all of the other areas of your system.

Depression is a complex illness that has a profound social impact; it is thought to be caused by an intricate variety of genetic, biochemical, psychological and circumstantial factors. Within a wider treatment plan, Yoga and Yoga Therapy are a multidimensional response to this multidimensional illness.

Yoga therapy offers an additional treatment, which can be adapted to the individual needs of the patient, while also empowering them with a tool they can immediately take into their everyday life, furthermore an estimated 10-30% of people diagnosed with depression are treatment resistant, in these cases, yoga therapy can step into the gap and provide support while an appropriate pharmaceutical response is found.
Clinical depression be expressed through a variety of symptoms, which include:

  • Persistent low mood and sadness.
  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Suicide ideation and thoughts of self-harm.
  • Lack of motivation, tiredness and loss of interest in life.
  • Weight gain or weight loss.
  • Loss of pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed.

These symptoms often reflect in social ramifications for patients, including the avoidance of occasions with friends and family, poor professional performance and no longer taking part in hobbies. Sometimes, depression can occur through a “downward spiral” of events, where an initial misfortune triggers a sequence of actions and emotions that contribute to the eventual development of clinical depression. Sometimes depression is triggered by hormonal imbalance.
Chronic illness, bereavement and job redundancy are other triggers for depression, but some cases, the reasons why someone may have developed the illness are less clear. Gender, social circumstances, drug/alcohol use and whether a person has a family history of mental illness can all increase a person’s vulnerability to depression – and a chemical imbalance of key neurotransmitters is the physical cause.

Why Use Yoga as a Adjunct Treatment for Depression?

Depression is such a varied and complex illness that a “one size fits all” approach is unlikely to be fully effective for a significant proportion of patients. People with depression often have to weigh up the benefits of antidepressants with their well-reported side effects.
Unfortunately, the fact that depression is still far from being entirely understood means that there is no perfect solution.
Within the context of pharmaceutical and other therapeutic remedies, yoga therapy can assist people in symptom management and recovery – and in cases of mild depression, it can be their primary self-help tool that prevents their symptoms from worsening.
People with depression exhibit elevated levels of cortisol, which is related to brain changes in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala. While the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (which are involved in emotion regulation, memory forming and decision making) appear to lose volume, the amygdala (responsible for our fear and stress response) becomes enlarged and more active. Known as the “stress hormone”, those with depression exhibit greater cortisol levels at all points during the day than people without depression.
Studies have demonstrated reduced levels of cortisol in those who practice yoga. It’s thought that the breathing exercises that are a key part of yoga induce the body’s relaxation response, and mindfulness meditation (another aspect of yoga) is also associated with lowering cortisol in study subjects as well as reductions in the size of the amygdala. In one study, participants exhibited lower cortisol levels immediately after a yoga class – which suggests the effect isn’t confined to long-term practice.
Depression also appears to be linked to reduced levels of certain GABA neurotransmitters(MDDs) and diverse types of GABAergic deficits.
One promising study published in the National Library of Medicine showed a reduction in suicide ideation for people suffering with depression after 12-week yoga intervention, concluding that yoga is a safe intervention for those whose symptoms include suicide ideation without intent.

Another benefit of yoga is that it offers a form of exercise to people living with or prone to depression. The efficacy of exercise for decreasing symptoms of depression has been well established and given that depression is known to drain motivation, yoga can offer a gentle and enjoyable way to begin a exercise regime. Yoga is a non-judgmental practice that is beneficial to people whatever their “skill” level, and a yoga class is a welcoming space that can provide tremendous support.
This is important for people living with depression, as feelings of worthlessness and self-blame might be a barrier to physical activity. Another barrier is the experience of depression itself. When someone is suffering with a severe depressive episode they may find it hard to even leave their bed, wash or eat, so it would be unrealistic to expect them to attend a public yoga class. It is therefore important to suggest a private yoga intervention at an appropriate time, where the practice will aid in recovery and help to prevent a major resurgence of symptoms.

I specialized in the following manifestations of Depression and Anxiety:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (Clinical Depression)
  • Hormones triggered depression
  • Expectant mothers on bedrest depression
  • Addiction recovery depression
  • Postpartum depression
  • Seasonal depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dystemic Dysorder/Dysthymia)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
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