Yoga RX: Mild Depression
Mild depression affects many people. It can be triggered by a specific incident or medical problem, or it can appear with no apparent cause. Often people don’t realize that they are suffering from a medical condition because symptoms are easy to overlook until they start to affect your daily functioning.
This form of depression is characterized by a chronic depressed mood or a general sadness. People who are depressed usually experience a low self-esteem, lack of energy, problems concentrating, forgetfulness, negative thoughts, social withdrawal, low appetite and sleep disturbances.
Depression can affect many areas of life. It can get in the way of relationships, impair your work performance and also affect your physical health. You can treat your mild depression with therapy and learn how to recognize and stop negative thoughts and replace them with positive, happy ones.
These simple yoga poses will help you overcome your inner turmoil, increase your energy, and improve your mood.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
For feelings of frustration, use poses that open the insides of the legs and stretch the sides of the torso, such as Utthita Parsvakonasana. These types of poses enable one to focus on the body periphery as they extend through the fingers, toes, and center outward, creating a sense of liberation and freedom.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
For low motivation or low energy, use forward bending poses like Prasarita Padottanasana.
B.K.S. Iyengar, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, says:
“Any depression felt in the mind is removed if one holds the pose (forward fold) for two minutes or more.”
Inversions, such as Sirsasana, increase circulation to the brain, stimulating the pineal and pituitary glands to release endorphins, which energizes the body and controls anxiety. Headstands stimulate the production of dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin, hormones that balance the mood and relieve depression. Attention and presence are essential in this pose, and thus is a great way to pause your thoughts and renew your perspective. Other vigorous practices like arm balances, repeated Sun Salutations, and other challenging poses can be similarly remedial for depression.
Other Beneficial Yoga Poses for Depression
- Postures that open the chest and inner arms (fish, threading the needle, boat) – Alleviate feelings of sadness and grief
- Kapalabhati Pranayama – Energizes the body
- Nadi Sodhana Pranayama – Reduces stress and anxiety
- Backbends – Energize and overpower mind agitation