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Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

How does yoga define anxiety and depression?

Yogis, the Indian scientists, to understand the nature of the universe turned inwards and began their experiments on the most highly evolved stuff of this universe - the human mind and arrived at fascinating truths. Sage Vasista asks us to do an experiment to find an answer to the question, "what is your state when you are in acute anxiety ?" Let us see how Prasad and Pratiksha bring out this point.

Prasad: please try and remember your experience of a terrible anxiety or fear or depression you went through in your life.

Pratiksha: Oh! Yes, recently just 2 months ago, I made a big mess of myself when I had to face the interview for my job.

Prasad: Tell me where was that anxiety?

Pratiksha: It was obviously starting as an intense distress or a fear in my mind but it soon gave me palpitation, tremors and I started sweating profusely.

Prasad: Yes, you are right, just 2 minutes before you entered the interview room, when you were in a terrible confusion, the thoughts were "My god, how I wish I do very well, what if I do not do well, I do not think I can do well" these thoughts but it had picked up enormous speed. It was so quick that it went beyond your capacity to comprehend it. The speed peredated into the body when the heart speeded up, breathing speeded up and led to this great confusion.

Prasad: What the sage tell us is that in all our emotions like extreme fear, anxiety, anger, frustation and even depression, the problem is that of uncontrolled surge of this speed, first at the level of the mind, which goes on to disturb the energy (prana) balance, percolates into extremely speeded up or blocked functions of the body resulting in physiological responses of anxiety or depression.

Prartiksha: My good God. It is very interesting. It sounds very simple. It is very practical. I can now see what you want to say further. I can see that speed is the root cause of all the problems I had. The answer should be to get mastery over this speed. All that I have to do is to 'run the car slowly initially so that I do not get into accidents.' Is this what you want to say?

Prasad: When Srirama was in deep depression, sage Vasista gives him this truth and tells him "Manah prasamana upayah yogah" - (mind slowing down trick is yoga) and goes on to give very simple hints of breathing to get mastery over the mind.

SPINAL STRETCH - With Legs Apart

Sthiti: Dandasana

  • Spread your legs apart as far as comfortable

  • Keep your hands stretched above your head.


  • While exhaling bend forward from the waist.

  • Catch the right foot with both hands and try to touch the right knee with the forehead.

  • Come up while inhaling and raise the hands above the head.

  • Repeat the same on the other side

  • Repeat about 25 times on alternate sides.


  • Do not bend the knees during the practice.

  • Increase the speed gradually to your maximum capacity.

This article has been written by Dr. R. Nagarathna, Dean, Division of Yoga & Life-sciences, SVYASA
This article is published online courtesy
and Arogyadhama

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