Yoga is considered to be very effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression. But doing yoga daily and combining it with meditation is required to ward off anxiety and depression.
Depression is a result of long-term stress and mental fatigue. Anyone who has suffered from depression knows how stressing and taxing it can be on our body. People with depression see no end to apprehensions, nervousness, fears, worries. Yoga helps allay depression by calming our nervous system, decreasing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, deep and slow breathing and relaxing our muscles. Yoga boosts our brain’s dopamine level and provides endorphins. Dopamine is the precursor of serotonin. Yoga redistributes the blood flow, oxygenates the entire body and improves the function of circulatory system. People with depression cannot solely depend on yoga. But yoga can definitely be used as an adjunct to other treatments.
Here are some asanas that will help you beat and conquer over depression:
- Sukhasana — Deep breathing with folded hands. This oxygenates our entire body and boosts our metabolism. It controls temper and allows the mind to focus.
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose) — Sit in the padmasana position. The left foot is placed on the right thigh and the right foot is placed on the left thigh. Then slowly lift your back as much as you can with the crown of your head touching the ground. Hold the big toes of both feet with your fingers. Matsyasana helps stimulate the pituitary and pineal glands located in the brain. It also regulates emotions and provides a sense of well-being.
- Pranayam — Breathe in deeply through your nostrils and feel your diaphragm move downwards as the lungs expand to allow more air to come in and collar bones to rise. And then slowly breathe out and feel your collar bones drop, lungs collapse and chest deflate. This disciplines our mind and calms and uplifts our soul.
- Savasana (Corpse Pose) — Lie in savasana for 3-5 minutes. In savasana, lie on your back and keep your legs apart. Your arms should be resting beside your body and eyes should be closed. Focus on your entire body, this way your entire body will be able to relax. Allow tension, worries, stress to escape from your body. Keep the muscles relaxed and give your body a much needed break.
- Balasana ( Child’s Pose) — In balasana, the person is expected to sit on his heels with his big toes touching, and the knees should be aligned with the hip. Bend forward with the arms and lie on the ground with arms alongside and palms facing the ceiling. Remain in this posture for 3-5 minutes. Since it stretches the lower back and hips, it helps relieve stress and fatigue.
- Cobra Pose — For Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), slide forward and raise your chest, making a cobra-like position. The shoulder should be away from the ears and the elbows can be bent. Your face should be towards the ceiling. This awakens the fire within our soul allowing us to concentrate and focus better. It increases energy and allays anxiety as it strengthens the back.
- Mountain Pose (Parvatasana) — In this, breathe out and lift your tail bone and hip bone upwards forming an inverted V. Your chest should be facing downwards. This is a good warm-up exercise. It revitalizes our system and lifts our spirit.
- Downward facing dog (Adho Svanasana) — To perform the Adho Svanasana, one has to be on the ground on all fours. Arms should be directly in front of the shoulders and knees below the hip. As you exhale, lift your hips up, keep the elbows and knees straight and form an inverted V with your body. Hands should be shoulder-width apart and feet should be hip-width apart. Press the ground firmly with your hands and look at your navel while doing so. Hold the downward dog and take deep breaths. Adho svanasana helps to awaken the relaxed muscles. It stretches and strengthens the whole of the body, allowing one to focus better. It also reduces stress and improves health.
- Warrior Pose (Virbhadrasana) — In Warrior pose, stand straight and turn your right leg in the right direction and push your left leg backwards. Raise your hands and bring your palms together into a prayer position and stretch. Consequently do it with your left leg. This strengthens the core and fights anxiety and depression.
- Viparit Virbhadrasana (Reverse warrior pose) — This has to be started with the mountain pose. Stand upright with your right ankle facing outwards and left ankle facing slightly inwards. Spread out your arms so they are parallel to the ground. Breathe out and bend the front knee. The front knee should be in line with the front foot. Lower your hips and lift your thigh so it also is parallel to the ground. With the next exhale, bring your left hand to the back and rest it on your left thigh. Take a deep breath and raise your right arm towards the ceiling. The right arm should be placed very close to the ear. Keep your front knee bent and hips lowered, shift your left hand gradually onto your leg from your thigh and bend back slightly. Your face should be facing upwards gazing at the fingers of the right hand. Reverse Warrior pose helps relieve lower back pain. It stimulates blood flow to all parts of the body. It calms our soul and alters our mood. Improves self-esteem and perseverance. It also combats depression and anxiety.
- Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrikshasana) — Both the hands should be placed hand distance apart. Bring legs towards the wall, making sure they are absolutely straight. Kick one leg up and then the other. Keep your feet flexed and stretch as much as your body allows. The focus of your eyes should be on a point in between the hands. This helps to alleviate depression and anxiety. It provides a sense of well-being. It also stretches the belly and calms the soul.
- Viparit Dandasana (Chair backbend) — Place a blanket on the folding chair. Sit on the folding chair with your knees bent. Lower your back gradually. Keep in mind that the shoulder blades are not supposed to touch the folded chair. Only the part below your shoulder blades should be resting on the chair. Straighten your legs and with your hands, hold the back legs of your chair. This pose placates our mind and body. It improves posture by boosting flexibility. It also increases tolerance and strengthens the core.
- Setubandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose over Crossed Bolsters) — Place one bolster (or rolled-up, folded blanket) on another in the form of a plus sign. Lie down lengthwise on the top bolster with your knees slightly bent. Slide gradually until your shoulder touches the ground. Spread your arms on the sides and straighten your legs and lift your chest. This alters the mood and mitigates anxiety. It lso enhances flexibility of the spine.
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) — Lie on the floor on your belly. Bend your legs from your knees and lift them up from behind. Curve your back and try to hold your legs with your hands. This pose is a great stress and anxiety buster. It stimulates the reproductive organs and also provides relief from headache. It tones the leg and arm muscles.
- Uttanasana (standing forward fold) — In uttanasana, stand upright with your feet and shoulder parallel to each other and wide apart. Now breathe out and bend forwards, your hands tightly wrapped around your thighs and your face facing your thighs. Try to straighten your leg and lift your hip up as much as you can. Uttanasana improves digestion and flexibility. It helps to alleviate anxiety and depression. It relaxes our nerves, soothes our soul and pacifies our mind.
All these asanas will prove to be helpful only when you change your company and remove people that hinder your growth. Surrounding yourself with negative people will only allow negative thoughts to cultivate in your mind. Adjust your company and take good care of yourself. Derive pleasure from the simplest things. Remain grateful and turn to God when you need reassurance. Prayer connects you with your soul. Take the steering wheel of your life into your own hands. Love others unconditionally. Don’t remain caught up in the “me and mine” drama, work for the welfare of humans and animals and give off positive vibes.
Stay happy and spread happiness.