Yoga and meditation creates a safe, compassionate container in an atmosphere of acceptance and love. Yoga therapists and teachers can help people learn tools to clear their own inner space of obstacles to joy and good mental health.
Yoga helps us cultivate equanimity and self-awareness along with the capacity to have perspective on our feelings and thoughts. We are not our feelings, not even persistent sadness that leaks into every part of our lives. We identify ourselves with things that will inevitably change. Depression is in part a resistance against life.
Because depression infiltrates all levels of our being, a holistic yoga program is ideal therapy. Physiologically, depression is a symptom of disregulation in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), both anxiety and depression can be present. People who become depressed often experience sympathetic nervous system suppression which leads to fatigue, lethargy, sleep disturbances, digestive issues and decreased libido and pleasure.
Regular, smooth diaphragmatic breath brings balance to the nervous system. It brings the body into equilibrium so it can work. Once healthy breathing is established, specific energizing pranayama practices can be added.
Yoga includes a broad range of philosophy and strategies to uplift and stabilize mood and emotion including meditation, chanting, mantra repetition, prayer, right relationship and right association. People and things that are meaningful and positive nurture love, joy and generosity. Cultivating determination and activating intention help overcome habits and dysfunctional behaviors. Working with the principles of yoga could include selective renouncing of things we’re attached to. Daily rituals including breathing exercises, a walk outdoors or selfless service can help pull you out of depression.
Working with thoughts we learn to see things as they are without reacting or mis-perceiving them. An integrated practice helps harness and direct energy towards deep and lasting transformation.
Physical benefits of yoga include decrease in cortisol, increase in feel-good hormones, muscle relaxation, regulation of endocrine system and stimulation of the vagus nerve.Yoga calms the sympathetic nervous system while activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Psychological benefits include elevation of mood, balances right and left brain function, cultivates equanimity, better management of bipolar disorder, and release of repressed emotions stored in body.