Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders. The underlying mechanism of depression are still poorly understood, but we do know that stress can be the principal cause in the development of depression. Standard medication treatment is still rather ineffective and only partially alleviates the symptoms. On the other hand, the correlation between yoga and reduced symptoms of depression are more and more evident, so here are a few tips on how yoga can help you deal with stress and depression.
STRESS RESPONSE REGULATION
Yoga has the ability to regulate our body’s stress response system by decreasing our levels of anxiety and stress. This leads to easier respiration, lower blood pressure and reduced heart rate. Some studies have even shown that doing yoga regularly can increase our heart’s rate variability and allow our bodies to respond and adapt to stress more easily. Additionally, stress is related to our perception of pain and people with poorly regulated stress response tend to have lower threshold and tolerance for pain. This means that practising yoga cannot only help regulate stress but also our response to pain.
Yoga improves our mood by using aerobic movement with rhythmic breathing and meditative practices to regulate the levels of GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid. Low levels of this chemical have been associated with anxiety disorders and depression. Practicing yoga can actually increase the levels of GABA and lead to reduced anxiety and improved mood. The calm, rhythmic breathing and motions, as well as relaxation practices involved in yoga, have an influence on the pathways in the brain leading to cortical and limbic areas. These areas are directly responsible for mood regulation, and activation of the said pathways can result in better mood and decreased symptoms of depression.
Yoga places its focus on breathing and incorporates several types of breathing patterns, ranging from slow and calming to fast and stimulating. Balanced breathing techniques have been used for centuries for stress management, relaxation, improving bodily functions and regulating various psychophysiological states. Sudarshan Kriya yoga uses this type of controlled, cyclical breathing in order to stabilize mental activity, enhance the brain function and increase the resilience to stress. Sudarshan Kriya yoga also leads to improved sleep quality, which is extremely useful for those suffering from stress-induced insomnia.
Yoga uses various body poses and physical movements to enhance the balance, flexibility, and strength of our bodies, check these 12 Yoga Poses For Non-flexible People. Some movements are fairly easy to accomplish, while others require years of practice. The biggest mistake people make when practising yoga is trying to perform a movement which is simply too much for their bodies to handle. Make sure you have the adequate gym wear and a yoga mat and do a couple of warm-up exercises before moving on to more difficult yoga poses. Regular yoga workouts, combined with adequate breathing and relaxation techniques over long periods of time can provide you with an accentuated sense of control, especially during a depressive episode or stressful situation.
Although yoga can be an excellent tool for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, have in mind that there are countless forms of yoga, some of which can put significant strain on your body. Numerous yoga studies have shown its impact on mood regulation and mental and physical health, but that doesn’t make it the most perfect choice for everybody. However, most people find the practice of self-acceptance, calm breathing, physical activity and relaxation that yoga offers is the number one solution for managing various symptoms of depression and stress.
Author Bio – Diana Smith is a full-time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.