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Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

How does yoga work in Anxiety and Depression?

The technique is to start with loosening exercises which are body movements repeated with jerks and speed. This helps initially to distract the mind from the loop of repeating anxiety producing thoughts. Once it is distracted by fast body movements you go on to slower body movements (Suryanamaskar and yogasanas). Similarly one can start with fast breathing practices (like Kapalabhati) and then move on to slower breathing practices (pranayama). After alternating between a set of alternating fast and slow body and breathing practices for about 20-30 minutes, mind is pulled out of its loop of worrying thoughts. Now it can be set into further slowing down by Nadanusandhana, and then to actual meditation which is nothing but very slow effortless flow of a single thought in the mind sinking down into total inner silence for a few seconds.

Has Yoga helped persons with anxiety and depression?

Yes, SVYASA has systematically recorded case histories of large number of patients with various types of anxiety and depression, and also followed them up for 2 weeks to 10 years after yoga practices.

Dr. Horia Crisan, a medical graduate from Germany worked with us in 1980 studied the effect of 4 weeks of pranayama practice in 19 cases of carefully diagnosed cases of general anxiety and showed statistically significant reduction in their anxiety scores, pulse rate, blood pressure, and also a reduction in the urinary excretory product (urinary VMA) of adrenaline.

Further, 129 subjects with different forms of anxiety including panic disorders, phobias and general anxiety disorder were studied during 1996-98. Within 2 weeks, the self rating anxiety scores, psycho physiological check list and the anti anxiety meditation scores reduced significantly after the practice of integrated approach of yoga therapy as described in this book.

Dr. Jayakiramiah et.al(2000) in 45 subjects with melancholia, compared the efficiency of Electroconvulsive therapy, imipramine and Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and concluded that Sudarshan Kriya Yoga is potential alternative to drugs as a from of treatment.


Stage I: Bhujangasana

Sthiti: Prone Posture

  • Assume the prone Sthithi posture.

  • Bring the palms on either side of the chest.


  • While inhaling progressively raise the head, the upper portion of the trunk and the back arching the trunk as far as back you can until the elbows are straight.

Stage II : Parvatasana 

  • While exhaling raise the buttocks and lower the head to look at the toes. Heels touch the ground.

  • This is one round of practice.

  • Repeat rapidly 10 to 20 times.

  • Come back to Sthiti position.

  • Relax in Makarasana

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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