How can depression be managed?
Talking about treatment for depression there are various methods used like psychotherapy or medications (antidepressants) or a combination of both. However, these treatment methods only help in alleviating symptoms. But “depression cannot be cured”.
There is intense research going on to find alternative treatment options for depression with the major focus on mind-body interventions such as yoga. The reason is a lot of people hesitate or refuse to participate in talk therapy or avoid medications. Primary treatments like anti-depressants do not benefit all patients. Around 10 to 30% of patients with depression fail to respond to antidepressants (treatment-resistant depression) or experience only mild improvement.
Other reasons could be due to unresolved issues of the patient, side effects of medications, lack of resources to access mental health care services, unmet needs, and personal choice.
It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch.
– Matt Haig, bestselling author.
Depression can be temporary or permanent and can cause partial or total disability. Considering the rising number of depression cases all over the world, there is a need for complementary therapies. An increasing number of researchers claim that yoga has the potential to be used as an alternative and complementary treatment for depression.
Dr. Mason Turner of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group says yoga therapy “can be very powerful in the treatment of depression.”
What is Yoga?
Originated in ancient India around 3000 BCE, yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines. In Indian tradition, it is more than physical exercise.Because, it involves both mental and spiritual state. The term yoga comes from the sanskrit word “yuj” which means yoke or union. In short, yoga is the harmony between body, mind and spirit. This is how yoga is linked to reducing the symptoms of depression.
Ever since yoga was introduced to the west, it has developed into a posture-based physical fitness, stress-relief and relaxation technique consisting largely of the physical postures or asanas.
A vast literature available on the health benefits of yoga reveals that it –
- Improves flexibility
- Generate balanced energy
- Reduce breathing and heart rate
- Increases blood flow
- Reduce aches and pains
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers the level of stress hormones like cortisol
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Calms the mind
Yoga practices have been used for improving various ailments such as arthritis, cancer, and a range of mental health symptoms. Yoga is helpful because of genle, calming and fuid nature.
Styles of Yoga
This style of yoga includes gentler and slower-paced movements including asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) so it is beneficial for beginners. Hatha prepares the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.
Based on ancient yoga teachings, this style comprises of quick and specific sequenced poses performed in the same order and is more physically demanding.
In this yoga style one focuses on both movements and breathing, starting slowly and gradually increasing the pace. It incorporates many of the same postures, but the order or variance of the poses often changes.
This yoga style focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the practice of asanas and use of props, such as blocks, chairs, and straps to help you find proper body alignment.
In this style of yoga, fixed sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises (performed in the same order) is practised in a room heated to 105 °F (41 °C) with a humidity of 40%.
Related: Yoga Poses To Release Emotional Pain
Hot yoga is done in a heated room without any set or sequence of poses.
This style of yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, for a more physically demanding exercise.
It is a passive style yoga that allows you to relax and release the body into a gentle stretch that is held for as long as 10 minutes.
This yoga style stretches and targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles and the fascia throughout the body to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility. It mainly involves seated and back poses.