Yoga & Depression
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
These are tough times to be human. Turbulent, tumultuous, and just plain shitty sometimes. The whole world is feeling it, including me.
If you're clinically depressed it's unlikely that Yoga alone is going to treat it- please seek out a mental health professional. What I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the teachings of Yoga have altered the way I'm in relationship with myself and this current phase of my development.
The rich traditions of Yoga go way beyond asana (poses). The attitudes and behaviors Yoga implores us to adopt aid us in living with more balance, ease, compassion, and grace even when the darkness presides.
At the top of my mind is ahimsa (non-harming) and karuna (compassion/self-compassion). The most important thing we can do when we're suffering is to be kind and gentle with ourselves.
How to practice kindness toward yourself:
If you need more rest than usual- take it.
If you feel less productive than usual- tell yourself 'there, there, it's ok'.
If you're beating yourself up for not being 'whatever enough'- acknowledge your pain, but also acknowledge your courage. You're still here trying your best.
Remember- small steps are still steps toward progress.
There are also some pranayamas (breathing techniques) that are designed to up-regulate the nervous system. They bring you out of tamas (lethargy; dullness) and toward rajas (action; movement).
Breathing practices to move energy upward:
Breath of Joy
NOTE: These breath practices may not be appropriate for everyone. Skip it if you have high blood pressure or if you suffer from any kind of head or eye injury, like migraines or glaucoma. If you start to feel light-headed, stop for a minute and just breathe normally.