Yoga for Depression | 11 Yoga Poses, How to Do & Benefits
Does Yoga for Depression really work?
What are the best Yoga Poses for Depression?
In this article, you are going to get answers to all these questions. Yoga is a form of exercise which helps a person to heal holistically as it not only works on our body but also the mind and the soul. It is a centuries-old practice which has proven its impact on a person’s overall well-being.
Yoga asana uses various methods such as breathing techniques, poses, and meditation which make the body stronger and healthier. It helps you to feel calm and relaxed mentally while spiritually enriching you. It is scientifically proven that yoga can improve one’s mood, help to relax and reduces stress and anxiety. (1)
What is Depression?
Depression is an extreme form of the feeling of sadness and whose control is not on you. It is very normal to feel sad but when the sadness is intense and seems hopeless and uncontrollable, then it is called depression. Depression does not allow you to function normally as it impedes and controls not only how you feel but also how to think and react. (2)
Symptoms of Depression
Depression does not come with a bang or an announcement. It creeps into your life quite unnoticed. Some of the symptoms are:
1) Feeling sad for a prolonged period of time.
2) No more pleasure in the things and activities which made you happy.
3) Feeling tired and listless constantly.
4) Too much or lack of sleep.
5) An increase or decrease in weight because of changes in appetite.
6) Feeling hopeless and worthless all the time.
7) Suicidal thoughts hover in your mind.
Causes of Depression
The causes of depression cannot be pinpointed to one reason as it could be for multiple reasons. Depression is not caused in a day but over time. Here are some of the most common causes of depression:
1) Some people are more prone to getting depressed as they suffer from low self-esteem or are overly critical of themselves.
2) Situations like constant stress at work, an abusive relationship or even being alone for a long time can cause depression.
3) Sometimes the genes contribute to depression if there are other family members who suffer from depression.
4) Some choices like drug and alcohol can lead to depression and may lead to a vicious cycle where these choices are used to cope with depression.
5) Sometimes there can be a change in the brain chemicals such as noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine which can lead a person to depression.
To conclude we can say that depression is absolutely curable through various means and yoga for depression is one of the best and natural ways of overcoming depression.
Yoga Poses for Depression
Depression is such a disease that comes without any warnings or obvious symptoms. It can cripple a person into believing that everything is abysmal and hopeless. Many a time’s people are unable to differentiate depression from occasional sadness which makes it hard to diagnose and treat depression in its nascent stage.
The good news is that it is absolutely curable and yoga for anxiety and depression works best. The following asanas help relieve you from depression naturally:
If you are looking at a yoga asana that would help you both physically and mentally, then Sun Salutation is the perfect one. In a span of 15 minutes, it is possible to easily do 12 sets of Surya Namaskar which means that a total of 288 powerful asanas can be performed during that time. This is also yoga for weight gain.
The following mantras are chanted while performing a set of 12 asanas in Surya Namaskar:
Om Mitraya Namah
Om Ravaye Namah
Om Suryaya Namah
Om Bhanave Namah
Om Khagaya Namah
Om Poosne Namah
Om Hiranyagarbhaya Namah
Om Marichaya Namah
Om Adityaya Namah
Om Savitre Namah
Om Arkaya Namah
Om Bhaskaraya Namah
How to do Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar is performed in 12 stages. You can learn about how to do Surya Namaskar in my other post. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully.
Benefits of Surya Namaskara
1) It is a great way to strengthen the spinal cord.
2) The entire 12 set of asanas in a Surya Namaskar includes conscious and deep breathing techniques.
3) Surya Namaskars provide stretching to the entire body.
4) It helps to enhance the blood circulation in the body and helps to achieve a youthful and healthy glow on your face.
Setubandhasana or the Bridge Pose is one of the most popular asanas in yoga which resembles the structure of a bridge. This asana helps to relax the body as well as stretch your neck, chest, and back.
It is absolutely necessary that both your stomach and bowels should be empty while doing this pose. It is also ideal to do this pose in the morning and should be done for 30 to 60 seconds.
How to do Setubandhasana
1) Lie on flat on your back on the ground.
2) Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Ensure that there is some distance between the feet (hip-width would do). Your knees and ankles should fall in a straight line.
3) Let your arms lie down beside you with your palms facing the ground.
4) As you inhale, lift your lower, middle and upper back off the ground and let your chin touch your chest. Your body should be supported by your shoulders, arms, and feet.
5) Your thighs should be parallel to the ground. Interlock your fingers to push your torso even higher off the ground.
6) Hold the pose for at least 60 seconds as you breathe normally.
7) Exhale and release the pose.
Benefits of Setubandhasana
1) This asana is an excellent exercise to release stress from your back and also to strengthen the muscles on your back.
2) It tones and stretches the chest, spine and neck areas.
3) Regular practice of this pose helps to relax the brain and reduce anxiety, depression, and stress.
4) Improves the blood circulation as well as digestion in the body.
3. Balasana/ Shishuasana
Balasana or the Child Pose is an asana which resembles the fetal position. This asana helps in strengthening the back muscles apart from providing relief from pain. This is also yoga for stress and depression.
It allows you to open up your heart and feel light and calm. Balasana can be done at any time of the day provided that your bowels and stomach have been empty for at least 4 to 6 hours. It should be done for at least 1 to 3 minutes. This is also part of yoga for blood pressure.
How to do Balasana
1) Kneel down on the ground and sit on your toes as they touch each other. Spread your knees apart and maintain a hip-width distance and inhale deeply.
2) Exhale as you bend forward and lay your torso on your thighs and your forehead on the ground while keeping your arms beside your body and raise it above your head while keeping the palms down.
3) Hold this pose for at least 30 to 60 seconds while breathing normally.
4) To move back to your original position, inhale and lift up your torso and kneel on the ground.
Benefits of Balasana
1) This asana is excellent to release pressure and tension from the back, chest, and shoulders.
2) It helps to alleviate anxiety and stress.
3) It also helps to strengthen and lengthen the spine and also stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles.
4) It allows free blood circulation throughout the body. It is also good yoga for piles asana.
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana
The Dog Pose is an asana which resembles the pose of a dog when it bends forward.
How to do Adho Mukha Svanasana:
1) Lie down on your stomach with hands by your side.
2) Lift your body up with help of your hands.
3) At the same time lift the lower body up so as to form a top with your hip.
4) Make sure your body is in a straight line from toes to hip and palms to hip.
5) Hold the pose for a few seconds and bend your knees to come back to the table position.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana
1) This asana is useful to strengthen the abdominal muscles which are also stretched.
2) The downward position of the pose allows an increased circulation of blood in the body.
3) It improves the digestive system in the body which includes the kidneys, spleen, and liver.
4) It also tones the muscles of the legs and thighs.
Here is an informative video from Yoga With Adriene
Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose is one of the asanas that forms part of Surya Namaskar. It is particularly known as yoga pose to increase height. It is a basic level yoga which should be done with an empty stomach and bowel for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
Bhujangasana is ideally done in the morning but it can be practiced in the evening as well as long there has been a gap of at least 3 to 4 hours between the last meal.
How to do Bhujangasana
1) Lie flat on your stomach and place your feet together and your hands on your sides.
2) Place your hand on your shoulder level and palms on the floor.
3) Inhale and raise your head and trunk while placing your body weight on your palms and your hands should be bent at your elbows.
4) Arch your neck and back backward so that it resembles the pose of a cobra with a raised head. Ensure that your shoulders are not touching your ears and let your hips, thighs, and feet press against the floor.
5) Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds as you keep breathing normally.
6) Slowly place your hands back to your sides and place your head and forehead on the ground.
Benefits of Bhujangasana
1) This asana makes the spine stronger as well as more flexible.
2) It tones the organs which are placed in the lower abdomen.
3) It regulates the metabolism in the body and is a stress releaser.
4) It stretches the muscles in the lungs, chest, shoulders, and abdomen.
Halasana or the Plow Pose is an asana whose pose resembles the shape of a plow. It is an asana which can do wonders to your body through stretches and strengthening. This is the best yoga for glowing skin.
Halasana is ideally done in the early hours of the day as long as your stomach and bowels are empty. It should be done for at least 30 to 60 seconds. This is one of the best yoga for depression asana.
How to do Halasana
1) Lie flat on the ground with your arms beside you while your palms are facing downwards.
2) As you inhale, lift your feet off the ground and let them be at a 90-degree angle.
3) As you lift your hips off the ground, use your hands for support.
4) Bring your feet and toes above your head at a 180-degree angle. Ensure that your back is perpendicular to the ground.
5) Breathe normally while holding the pose for a while.
6) Exhale and bring your feet down and repeat again after a break.
Benefits of Halasana
1) This is an excellent asana to massage the digestive system as it improves and regulates the digestive system.
2) It aids in regulating the metabolism of the body and weight loss.
3) It helps to bring down the blood sugar levels to normal and is particularly useful for diabetic patients.
4) It helps to flex the spine and strengthens the back muscles.
Virabhadrasana or the Warrior Pose is named after an incarnation of Lord Shiva, a fierce warrior and is considered as one of the most graceful asanas in yoga. It helps in strengthening as well as stretching the entire body.
Virabhadrasana is usually practiced in the early hours of the morning and with an empty bowel and stomach. It should ideally be done for 20 seconds on each leg.
How to do Virbhadrasana
1) Stand straight with your legs about 3 meters apart while your right foot is in the front and your left foot is behind.
2) Turn your left foot in by 15 degrees and right foot out by 90 degrees.
3) Align the center of the arch of your left foot with the center of your right heel.
4) Lift your arm to the level of your shoulders ensuring that your hands are parallel to the ground while your palms are facing upwards.
5) Slowly exhale and bend your right knee in such a way that your knee and ankle form a straight line all the while extending both your arms above your head and stretching out.
6) Hold the pose while breathing normally for at least 20 seconds.
7) Inhale and come up and exhale and place your arms to your sides.
8) Repeat the pose on the left leg.
Benefits of Virabhadrasana
1) This is an excellent asana to strengthen and tone the lower back, legs, and arms.
2) It increases the stamina of your body as it helps to stabilize and balance the body.
3) It helps in releasing stress from the shoulders as well as unclogs frozen shoulders.
4) It also helps by stimulating and restoring the spinal cord.
Savasana or the Corpse Pose is an asana in which the posture resembles a dead body. This asana completely relaxes your body and mind.
It is usually done at the end of an active yoga session and this pose helps in deep healing and restoration of the body. Savasana can make any tired person feel rejuvenated and fresh. It should be done for 10 to 12 minutes.
How to do Savasana
1) Lie down flat on your back on the ground and close your eyes.
2) Ensure that your legs are apart and your hands are beside your body.
3) Inhale slowly while drawing attention on each and every part of your body. Start from your toes to the top of your head while breathing gently and deeply.
4) After 10 minutes your body will feel relaxed and refreshed after which you can open your eyes.
Benefits of Savasana
1) This is an excellent asana which lets the body relax and go into a deep meditative state during which the tissues and cells in the body are repaired.
2) It helps the body to release stress to replenish and rejuvenate itself.
3) Blood pressure, as well as anxiety, drops as the body is in relaxed and in a calm state of mind.
4) It also provides the body with instant energy within a short period of time which thereby increases your productivity.
Uttanasana or the Forward-Bending Pose is an asana where the head falls below the heart. It instantly rejuvenates the body through blood circulation in the head. This is the best yoga for constipation.
Uttanasana should be done on an empty stomach and bowels preferably in the morning. It stretches as well as strengthens various parts of the body. It should be done for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
How to do Uttanasana
1) As you stand straight on the ground and put your hands on your hips, inhale deeply.
2) Exhale and bend forward from your hips. Ensure that you move your hips and tailbone slightly back just as the rest of your body moves forward.
3) While doing this pose always keep your knees slightly soft as this will allow your hips to move forward into your thighs and the buttocks to point out.
4) As you hang down, keep your hands on the ground next to your feet which should be parallel to each other. At this stage, you will feel a pull in your hamstrings.
5) Root yourself into your heels as you turn your thighs inwards for better alignment.
6) Allow your head to dangle down and look through your legs as you hold the pose for 30 seconds.
7) To go back to your original position, place your hands on your hips and as you inhale, slowly rise up.
Benefits of Uttanasana
1) This is an excellent asana to stretch your hamstrings, calves, back, and hips.
2) It allows your mind to calm down and reduces anxiety.
3) It activates the liver and kidneys in your body.
4) It also massages the digestive organs and improves digestion.
This asana provides stretching to the entire body. It should be done for at least 30 to 60 seconds.
How to do Sarvangasana:
1) Lie down flat on your back and keep your arms and legs besides your body.
2) Lift your legs, buttocks and back swiftly in such a manner that lower body is supported by your elbows as you stand high on your shoulders.
3) While doing the pose, move your elbows close to each other and straighten your spine and legs. Please note that the weight of your body should be supported by your shoulders and elbows and not your neck or head.
4) Make your legs erect and point out your toes and hold the pose for 30 seconds while breathing normally.
5) Lower your knees and place your hands on the floor to release the pose and lie flat on the ground and relax.
Benefits of Sarvangasana
1) It stimulates several glands in the body such as the thyroid and prostate and also the organs in the abdomen.
2) It improves both the metabolism as well as digestion in the body.
3) It helps relieve stress, calms the brain and cures mild depression.
4) It also helps to cure asthma, sinusitis, and infertility.
Shirshasana or the Headstand Pose is an asana in which the body is completely inverted and supported by the forearms. It is known as the king of all yoga asanas as it is possible to do this asana only after being proficient in other asanas.
This asana needs to be done empty stomach early in the morning or else there should be a gap of 10-12 hours between your meal and practice. It should be done for 1 to 5 minutes.
How to do Shirshasana
1) Kneel on the ground with your knees close together and the big toes touching at the back.
2) Interlock your fingers and place your forearms on the ground as you move your body forward. Let your elbows spread out a little more than the width of our shoulders to form an equilateral triangle.
3) Place the crown of your head in between your palms and get a firm grip by pressing your hands against your head.
4) As you raise your buttocks off the ground, make your knees and legs straight, resembling an inverted V.
5) The toes should be tucked in and walk forward towards your head as much as possible.
6) Take your left knee into your chest and let the left leg up towards the sky. Bring your right feet to the left knee by bending the right leg and slide upwards to where the left leg is.
7) Once both your legs and feet are up in the air then tighten your thighs, abdomen, and chest and balance the weight of your body from your arms and head.
8) Hold the pose for as long as possible while breathing normally.
9) To go back to your original position, tuck your tailbone towards the back and bend your knees slightly and come down gently to the ground.
Benefits of Shirshasana
1) This is an excellent asana to increase the blood circulation in the head and upper parts of the body.
2) It aids in relaxing the mind as well as improves the functioning of the brain.
3) Tones and activates the abdominal muscles and reproductive organs.
4) There is tissue regeneration in the lower parts of the body because of the reverse flow of blood.
Tips to Reduce Depression
1) Always reach out to your friends and family for support as it is always better to share your burdens and feeling with others rather than keeping it to yourself.
2) Always distract your mind by doing things that make you feel good and enthusiastic again.
3) Always do some physical activities like walking, running or yoga which will activate and rejuvenate your body and boost your mood as well.
4) Always eat healthy which means that you would have to start eating consciously and let go of refined foods and sugar.
5) Do not let your negative thoughts overpower you and make you feel crippled. You have to learn to master it and not become pessimistic.
6) Always catch enough sleep to let you wake up fresh for the day. This is possible if you introduce some lifestyle changes like sleeping on time and not taking naps during the day.