Depression can make mundane tasks seem daunting. It can drain your vibrancy, your motivation, and your sense of self. Yoga is a tool that you can use to uplift your energy and spirit through dynamic movements and energizing breathing exercises. There is a difference between having temporary depression symptoms related to life events, Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), and Major Depressive Disorder. Everyone can feel blue sometimes, especially during periods of adjustment, loss, or stress. Yoga can be helpful during these times to get you back on your feet. Even if you are experiencing clinical dysthymia or depression, yoga has been shown to be an effective practice to add on to other recommended clinical interventions such as medication or talk therapy.
Yoga focuses on connecting breath with movement. The breath that comes along with the postures is powerful and healing. Our breath can be manipulated to energize us or to calm us. Yoga forces you to breathe deeply, slowly, and mindfully. This sends signals to your brain that you are safe to relax. Your breath also powers your movement in yoga. It energizes and prepares you to take action, on and off your mat.
Most yoga postures are innately stimulating or soothing. When going through a full class or flow you want to find a sequence that has balance between the two. If you are feeling depressed, it may be helpful to focus on poses that are more energizing. These tend to be the postures that involve back bends and inversions (placing your head below your heart). Examples of these postures include, but are not limited to: bridge pose, camel pose, dolphin pose, puppy pose, legs-up-the-wall pose, standing forward fold, and supported shoulder stand. Many of these poses require warm up and proper alignment to be done safely. You should always start off with the guidance of a teacher when first beginning yoga.
Beyond the science between how breath and movement affect your brain, yoga can be helpful because it encourages self-compassion and self-care. Yoga allows you to turn inwards, observe without judgment, connect with your inner needs, and respond to yourself with love and kindness. If you need an extra boost of energy and positivity, I encourage you to explore yoga as an option.
Kaitlin is a psychotherapist at Freestone Psychotherapy who integrates Yoga-Informed Psychotherapy and Trauma Sensitive Yoga into her work with patients. If you would like to talk with Kaitlin about meeting, you can email her at email@example.com or through the contact link on our website.