Yoga for Depression – Does It Work?

Consult with your doctor before stopping any medication that you are currently on. Some medications are necessary for your well-being. This article is not a substitute for medical advice.

Yoga’s Role in Helping with Depression and Anxiety

Yoga is the answer to perfecting the body, easing the mind, and cultivating the wisdom of the spirit. A traditional yoga practice utilizes meditation and breathing exercises known as Pranayama and Asanas. These are the physical postures, which I am sure, you must have seen hundreds of times on a yoga DVD or online yoga video. Yoga promotes abstention from harmful behaviors, such as smoking and overindulgence in alcohol, and encourages healthy dietary changes and promotes mental clarity through meditation and relaxation. There are a lot of health benefits of yoga, physical as well as spiritual. Here we shall discuss the effects of yoga on human mind.

Many studies have shown that exercise can help with anxiety and depression. It was never completely certain; however, which types of exercise gave the most benefit. Yoga was taken into consideration, along with other types of exercise, for a study that was conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine. It compared walking vs. yoga’s effects on anxiety and depression to assess health benefits of yoga. The results showed that the practice of yoga improved emotions and moods more effectively than just walking, by enhancing the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA, known as gamma amino butyric acid, reduces anxiety and enhances relaxation. It is the main inhibitory or calming neurotransmitter in the nervous system.

The study was based on 19 people practicing yoga for 60 minutes, three times weekly, for 12 weeks. Similarly, 15 participants did a walking program for the same period of time. The moods of the participants and levels of GABA in the brain were assessed at the beginning and end of the trial period. At the end of 12 weeks the findings were not just interesting, but quite amazing, confirming the health benefits. The people who had engaged in yoga had a much greater improvement in their moods and less anxiety than the walking group. They also had higher levels of GABA in the brain as measured on an MRI scan.

In another study from Boston University in 2007, it showed that a one-hour yoga session resulted in elevated GABA levels in the brain and that GABA levels increased by 27% in the yoga group compared with absolutely no change in the other group. This was the first study of its kind to show that a modality such as yoga contributed to elevated GABA levels in the brain.

Prescription Medications for Depression

Many prescription medications work by increasing GABA levels in the brain and they contain Benzodiazepines. Valium, Ativan, Restoril and Ambien are just a few of the many in this category of drugs. They reduce anxiety and induce sleep. But the problem is that these drugs are habit-forming. Once taken on a regular basis they are difficult to stop, not to mention the other side-effects that these drugs may cause.

By practicing yoga, you will diminish anxiety and reduce the need for prescription and over-the-counter habit-forming drugs. Your body will get many health benefits of yoga that will be felt in countless ways, including flexibility, balance, muscle strengthening, better concentration and a natural relaxation response. Once a regular yoga practice is formulated, it can benefit numerous medical conditions that may eventually no longer require medication.

Yoga has been proven to help with not only strengthening the body and increasing flexibility, but also in lowering high blood pressure, reversing heart disease, alleviating asthma, reducing the pain of arthritis, chronic back pain and Fibromyalgia, just to name a few.

What You Need to Know Before Trying Hot Yoga

 

Everybody seems to have an opinion about hot yoga. Some people absolutely love it and they think that everyone else should love it too; on the other hand, there are people who despise it and stay as far away from it as possible. Since you’re reading this article, I imagine you haven’t quite created an opinion on the matter yet.

Here are a couple things you may want to consider about hot yoga before you take the plunge!

 

 

Hot Yoga is Hot

That might sound obvious, but it really is toasty in there. A lot of people go into a hot yoga class and after about 10 minutes are surprised by how hot it really is. Heat isn’t a bad thing, but it is a really good thing to know before you walk into the room.

 

 

You are Going to Sweat

Make sure you bring a couple of towels and are wearing clothes that you can really sweat in. Don’t be surprised if you have beads of sweat rolling off of you even if you aren’t someone who usually sweats very much. It’s also a good idea to bring a change of clothes for afterwards so you don’t get cold as the sweat cools down.

 

Sweat is Good

You’ve probably heard about the amazing benefits of sweating in relation to detoxifying. Your skin is your largest organ and working up a sweat like that can have very purifying affects on your overall health.

 

 

You’ll Be Extra Bendy

Your muscle will be extra warm and will have a little extra give to them, which will make you more flexible than usual. This is great for getting deeper stretches and can really help you with poses that you might be struggling with in your other classes. Make sure you don’t get too carried away and give your body some time to calm back down afterwards to avoid any over-stretching.

 

Your Regular Yoga Outfit Will Be Too Hot

It really does matter what you wear to a hot yoga class because the heat will get to you fast. It is not uncommon to feel dizzy or slightly nauseous during a hot yoga class based entirely on the temperature in the room. It’s so important to dress in a way that will not make you warmer than you need to be and also that will not distract you. Clothes that you need to pull or tug on will be very frustrating. Take the time to find an outfit or two that are well fitted, thin and (if you’re comfortable with it) on the smaller side. Something like these yoga capri leggings would be perfect.

 

Keep an Open Mind

It might be very tempting to dismiss your hot yoga experience as stressful or exhausting but if you keep an open mind you might actually really enjoy it. You might feel drained by the elevated temperature or you might really thrive in it! You will not know until you try it and give it your best shot.

 

 

Hopefully these six little pointers here will help you prep for your first hot yoga experience!

 

Ashtanga Yoga – Things To Consider

If you are an advanced Yoga practitioner and feel the need to express yourself physically on a different level, but haven’t quite found your yoga style yet, then we recommend you try out Astanga Yoga.

Ashtanga is not merely a yoga style but rather a philosophy of life with the idea to synchronize a healthy mind and body using a person’s potential.

Origin of the Ashtanga Yoga

While there is no clear record of when the style was first “created” it was popularized by Sri K. in the beginning of the 20th Century in India. It is mentioned some ancient writing by Vamana Rishi, named Yoga Korunta.

Practice of the Ashtanga Yoga

The main goal of this particular style is to push the practitioner to reach his or hers fullest potential on different levels. This starts with the consciousness and goes through the physical, spiritual and psychological. Correct breathing patterns, postures, and gazing points lead to control of the body and its senses on a deep level within a person’s self. Through regular practice and devotion, a person receives strength and balance within the mind and body.

There are three sequences of movements in the Ashtanga system and each of them serves a different purpose. The main one is called Yoga Chikitsa, and its goal is to detoxify and align a person’s body. The second one called Nadi Shodhana which helps to purify the nervous system through opening different energy channels and clearing them. The third one is named Sthira Bhaga which takes the previous two and synchronizes them into strength. However, it requires advanced levels of flexibility.

Before moving to the next patterns of movements, one must properly develop the previous as each posture helps the person prepare for the next and helps to develop both mind balance and physical strength.

Meaning of the Ashtanga Yoga

The literal translation to Ashtanga is “eight limbs”. Explained by Patanjali as this; Dhyana (meditation), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Samadhi (contemplation), Dharana (concentration), Yama (abstinences), Asana (postures), and Niyama (observances). All of those branches help each other for an individual to reach a proper balance. Postures are supported and established by the breath control, and both of them are the core of the abstinences and observances. Once a person reaches firm control of the first four, the second spiritual four naturally achieve the higher level over time.

Core of the Ashtanga Yoga

“Everything Is God”, but “Breath Is Life”. Breath and practice are the two most important factors to revealing your full potential through this style of yoga. Breathing methods cannot be emphasized enough as they humble the person and grant the body with precise, gentle and steady movements.

Practice helps you develop strength and stamina, but also discipline. One cannot expect results if no effort is put in; it’s the same goes with yoga. We recommend a self-practice class for this style.