Yoga Poses for depression
Even though antidepressants remain the best available option to treat depression, many studies have found that yoga could also be tried in addition to medication to help the patient, especially those who are in the mild to moderate category, to recover.
There had been many studies presented in this regard at the American Psychological Association’s 125th Annual Convention, held in Washington, D.C in 2017 and one of these studies conducted by Lindsey Hopkins, Ph.D., of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California, and colleagues – involving 23 male veterans found that patients who under took yoga practice for eight weeks had significant reduction in their depression scale unlike others.
In another study, conducted by Sarah Shallit – of Alliant International University in San Francisco, CA – and colleagues, who randomly selected some patients from 52 women aged 25 to 45 years to undergo eight-week yoga practice, found that those who practiced yoga had significant reduction in their symptoms.
However, according to Lindsey Hopkins, at this time, yoga could only be considered as a complementary treatment along with medication in patients with depression and it required more studies in this regard.
Following are some specific yoga poses that can be very helpful in treating depression:
Ardhakati Chakrasana/ Lateral Arc Pose
Steps: Stand erect with your hands at the side of the body. Inhale and raise the hands slowly. When it reaches to the shoulder level turn the palms upwards and continue raising the hands till the biceps touch the right ear. Then give a full side stretch towards the left side and exhale. Keeping this position look at the fingers, inhale and slowly comeback to standing position. Exhale and bring the arms down wards and repeat the same by raising the left hand stretching towards the right side.
Lie down facing the floor and keep your legs together. Stretch your toes to the maximum. Keep your palm close to your shoulder and raise the body including face, shoulders, chest, and stomach until navel using the hands. While rising up, breathe in and balance your body on the hands.
Benefits: Hips and related body parts are strengthened with these asanas and it helps enhance digestion. This asana can be effective in dealing with conditions like gas trouble, heart burns and acidity. It also improves the elasticity of lungs and heart. The muscles of the hand and the back are also strengthened with this asana. This can subsequently help in preventing stroke.
This yoga posture is aimed at attaining a healthy balance between the nerves, which are known as ‘Ida’, and ‘pingala’ in Ayurveda. Sit down and keep the spine straight. Keep the right hand in Vishnumudra and the left hand in Chinmudra.
Breathe in through the left nostril, closing the right nostril with the right thumb. Now release the right thumb and breathe in through the right nostril, closing the left nostril with the ring finger of the right hand. Now do this alternatively a few times.
Practicing this is effective for improving the breathing process and the functioning of the brain. It is also effective in dealing with anxiety and depression.
As a breathing exercise, it is very important to perform Pranayama mindfully. The proper practice of Pranayama calms down the mind thereby making the person serene and pleasant. If you can effectively control your breath, you would also be able to control your mind.
Moreover, Pranayama helps in improving your awareness of the nature and enhances the energy around you, connecting you better with those around you.
Other benefits of Pranayama includes better blood circulation, lower chances of contracting heart-related problems, relaxation for body and mind, better concentration, relief from stress, reducing the chances of depression, hypertension and anxiety etc.
This is the kind of pranayama which is practiced along with making a buzzing sound while breathing in and breathing out. You have to make a powerful buzzing sound wherein the entire throat vibrates. This vibration would spread throughout the body as positive vibrations.