We all know that one of the top recomendations for someone with depression is to exercise or get active. I havent found a list of tips for beating depression that does NOT include exercise as a way to help beat the odds. Those of us who suffer from depression know something “the others’ just dont understand and that is.. We cant even fathom the thought of getting out of the bed, how on earth are we going to be motivated enough to “work out.”
One thing we can do is start slow and find something we can do. Yoga can provide depression relief without being too taxing. We can even begin our yoga practice from the bed. WHAT? you say, I can do my depression workout in bed? YES! I say! Anything is better than nothing.. Perhaps starting our practice in bed will give us just the little boost we need to get out of bed next time.
I have practiced yoga for many years, sadly, when my depression is at its worst, my yoga practice goes out the window, just like everything else that is good for me or that I find enjoyable.
There are several thoughts as to why yoga can be beneficial, but one thing is for certain, if traditional anti-depressants are not working, what is the harm in trying an alternative therapy? If it doesn’t work, we have lost nothing and gained at least a little bit of exercise or movement.
Yoga is a proven way of reducing stress and whatever is causing our depression, be it stress or something else, our depression causes us more stress, guilt and shame. So, if a yoga practice can reduce stress, then it could be assumed that it will help us with our depression. Again, if it does not, what have we lost?
If nothing else, yoga is a proven method of relaxation. Since many of us suffer from insomnia and other sleep related issues, why not try yoga before bedtime to help us rest and relax and unwind and perhaps, get some sleep.
Practicing yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. These are all good things, right? I am not one who likes to run, and earlier in the week, I suggested walking the dog around the block as a simple form of exercise. But, if I can lay on my floor for a few minutes and do a few yoga poses and this counts as exercise, that may not be such a bad thing… what do you think?
Yoga practitioners and alternative medicine practitioners have long held the belief that mental health issues area all caused by tension and long held, buried tension. They often feel that holding on to tension causes blockages in our body and stops the energy flow or life force. Restoring this vital life energy is key to improving emotional well being and dissolving emotional ‘blocks’ in our system.
Intentionally breathing is a huge part of the yoga practice. This slow, methodical breathing is key to stress relief which in turn will help us feel better. The calmness brought by intentional breathing can help us refocus our energy, concentrate on the present moment and the movement of our breath in and out of our bodies rather than the sadness, pain, guilt etc we have been experiencing with our depression.
Finally, Some of the yoga poses connect the body and mind. Concentration is required to move our bodies into the intended positions and keep them there long enough to hold the pose for a few minutes. If we are connecting our mind and body into the present moment and concentrating on not falling on our asses while maintaining a balance pose, for example, we don’t have time to think about anything else. Essentially, it is a physical meditation which is another proven method of stress relief. Turning our minds off, even for the small amount of time it takes us to hold a yoga pose is a small enough adjustment that the mind can begin reparation.
Have you tried yoga? Would you be willing to try a few simple yoga poses each day for a few weeks to see if it helps?
Sources: Harvard Mental Health Newsletter