Over the last few years I have been learning how yoga can be adapted to help sufferers of anxiety and depression. We now offer Yoga Therapy for a range of situations, including depression. So its a good time to share with you some of what I have learnt about depression and how yoga can help.
What is depression?
We all feel sad or low from time to time, but this isn’t necessarily depression – those low feelings may pass. Depression occurs when those feelings intensify or last for weeks, months, or even years and this can be very disruptive to our lives.
Symptoms might include:
- Avoiding social activity
- Inability to concentrate
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feelings of failure or that life is not worth living
- Problems sleeping
- Change in appetite
Types of Depression
- Situational depression – Is a temporary depression that may arise from grief (the death of a loved one, or the end of a relationship) or some other significant change in one’s life.
- Major depression – Occurs when the symptoms of depression persist for more than two weeks.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder – Is similar to a major depression but is less intense and chronic (at least two years).
- Depressive episodes can also arise from Bi-polar Disorder
How big is the problem?
- In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults experience depression, and over 2 million anxiety.
The World Health Organisation says:
- Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
How can Yoga Help?
Our autonomic nervous system governs much of our physiology and is made up of:
- The Sympathetic nervous system (flight/fight/freeze), and
- The Parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest and regulation of the whole nervous system)
Depression can severely impair both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Yoga can help rebalance them in several ways:
- We use breath to help regulate the systems in the body. Changing the flow of breath such as a long slow inhale followed by a short retention of breath, when guided by a qualified yoga instructor, is a powerful tool which can significantly improve one’s emotional wellbeing.
- Single focused meditation can, over time, change neural pathways and thus our thought patterns and emotions. Self awareness and self reflection can further help to change one’s perspective for the better.
- We may employ mantra and/or chanting as when you use your voice, you cannot think of anything else. Try singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in your head and see how many thoughts you have while singing. By calming our mind in this way, we in turn calm our emotions and body.
The guidance of a yoga therapist in these ways can supplement other treatments and can help develop new patterns that can provide some relief to sufferers of depression.
Book your initial session for just $99 (usually $120).
If you are experiencing these feelings – or know someone who is – more information can be obtained from beyondblue or Lifeline.