Anxiety and depression are common mental health conditions that can have a negative impact on our quality of life. If left untreated, anxiety and depression can lead to other problems such as substance abuse, physical ailments, and insomnia.
Research has shown that the regular practice of yogic asana’s (postures) and pratyahara (breath control)* are highly effective in helping reduce many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Specifically, individuals experience a greater sense of internal calm, emotional equilibrium, increased mental and physical energy, and a reduction in negative thinking.
Yoga is thought to achieve these benefits in several ways:
- As an exercise, it can help you to alter your overall body chemistry in a way that helps to stabilize your moods and regulate your anxiety and stress.
- Regular yoga practice teaches deep focus and mindful breathing, two important elements in helping to relieve depression. Participants can better focus on the present, clear their mind and strengthen the mind-body connection.
- It helps modulate the stress response, reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure and easing respiration. This may also help in managing pain tolerance.
- Finally, the mindfulness component of yoga helps individuals to focus on the present moment and become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, which can help to reduce negative thinking patterns that can lead to anxiety and depression.
If you are interested in trying the practice of yogic asanas and breathing exercises, there are a number of yoga studios and on-line classes one can access.
*Please note, the practice of the asanas and breath control are always enhanced if combined with a form of self study that allows one to also address the root causes of one’s stress, anxiety, and /or depression.