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Yoga For Depression

Everyone feels "blue" from time to time, but when depression deepens or persists for a long time, it can suppress your energy for living and make you more vulnerable to disease by dampening the immune system. Depression is sometimes a warning that may help you to protect your mental and physical health. It can be viewed as a signpost, signaling "It's time for a change.

"A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression. Depressive disorders come in different forms, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease.

Depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.

Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness., is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual.

Signs and symptoms

Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Restlessness, irritability


Mala means Garland


  1. Squat on the haunches with the feet together .The soles and heels should rest completely on the floor. Raise the seat from the floor and balance.

  2. Widen the thighs and knees and move the trunk forward until the armpits extend beyond the knees.

  3. Bend forward and catch the back part of the ankles.

  4. After gripping the ankles, exhale and move the head down to the toes and rest the forehead on them.

  5. Maintain the pose for about a minute breathing normally.

  6. Inhale, raise the head, release the ankle grip and relax on the floor.

  7. Now exhale, bend forward and rest the head on the floor. Stay in this position also for 30 to 60 seconds with normal breathing.

  8. Inhale, raise the head from the floor and return to position.

  9. Release the hands and rest on the floor.


The asana tones the abdominal organs and relieves backaches.

Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

Some types of depression run in families, suggesting that a biological vulnerability can be inherited.  Apparently additional factors, possibly stresses at home, work, or school, are involved in its onset.

In the, yoga sutras, Patanjali states that our inner obstacles create mental distraction, which in turn leads to Daurmanasya- depression. These inner obstacles can be removed by the practice of yogic techniques: asana, meditation and pranayama

One study, conducted jointly by the Philadelphia-based Jefferson Medical College and Yoga Research Society, found that practitioners experienced a significant drop in cortisol levels after a single yoga class. High cortisol levels are characteristics of stress and depression. A marked decrease in cortisol and increase in the hormone prolactin are believed by many professionals to be the key in producing the anti-depressant effect of electroshock therapy.

The first thing a depressed person stops doing is moving. Regular exercise becomes intolerable. But Yoga exercise, starting with as few as three poses a day in just a few minutes' time, coupled with correct breath patterns, can become so pleasant to you that soon you will want to do more and more. The heavy, unmoving feeling of depression will be on the run! Yoga exercises put pressure on glands and organs, helping them to produce the soothing, healing chemical balance that is needed to feel well and be well. Yoga exercises improve circulation, sending invigorating oxygen to your brain and all your muscles. The stretching and strengthening movements flush toxins from the body as well.

The deep, invigorating breath techniques of Yoga bring large amounts of fresh oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. Like a spring wind, it blows through the system bringing new light and strength to the unused parts of the body and mind where depression hides.

Complete relaxation and active meditation practices show you how to access the strength and power of your inner self for a support system that keeps you going through all the ups and downs of your life

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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