Yoga for Depression: Important Things You Should Remember

By Amy Taylor on March 17, 2017

We’ve all heard about yoga and how effective it is in promoting mental health. Many people practise yoga to beat stress and anxiety, and improve their mood. But did you know that yoga can also help relieve depressive symptoms? That’s right. And if you are considering this ancient mind-body technique as a means to cope with depression, here are some important things you should know:

Practise regularly.

One session of yoga is not enough to beat depressive symptoms. While you are most likely to experience immediate positive results, such as improvement in mood and better sleep, you have to do it regularly in order to experience the long-term benefits of yoga in your mental health, especially if you are dealing with depression. In a recent study, published this month in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2-3 times of yoga practice per week provides optimal result among depression patients. In this study, one group of patients were asked to do yoga three times per week, for 90 minutes per session. Another group did the same but only twice a week. At the end of the study, those who practised yoga three times per week had the greatest reduction in depression symptoms. But the researchers note that for those who have busy schedule, twice a week of yoga can still be very effective.

Slow, long-held postures work best.

There are various forms of yoga and they are all effective in promoting health. But as to mental health in particular, the Iyengar yoga stand out. This type of yoga emphasizes precision of alignment. Poses and postures are often held at a longer period of time, resulting to therapeutic benefits and greater mental awareness.

Proper breathing is very, very important.

Proper breathing is at the core of every yoga practice. To maximise its mental health benefits, you should breathe properly each and every time. Whenever your mind loses focus on your breathing, make a conscious effort to do so. Finishing your practise with coherent breathing is crucial as well. This involves gently breathing in through the nose and using pursed lips resistive exhalation. This exercise takes about five breaths per minute.

Perform relaxation techniques at the end of each practise.

It is important to allow your body to relax at the end of your yoga practice. This includes loosening up tense muscles and allowing your breathing to return to normal. Set at least 10 minutes or so doing nothing and just focusing on the present moment - noticing how you are feeling. Afterwards, you can go back to your usual activities for the day.

Yoga is a great tool to deal with depression and other mental health problems. Practising it regularly and properly can help you recover faster. 

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