Yoga and depression: How does it work?
1. Yoga calms mind
Practicing yoga through asanas, breathing techniques, chanting mantras (sounds and words) enables one to take a deep dive into your inner world. You can know yourself better and gain high self-awareness. We can easily connect to our thoughts, ideas, and behaviors and harmonize our states of mind, memory, and body. As a result, we feel calmer and peaceful.
2. Yoga reduces stress
While cortisol causes the shrinkage of neurons, deep breathing and meditation reduces stress and produces proteins for repairing neurons and increasing neuroplasticity (brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life).
3. Yoga fights anxiety
Practising asanas, deep breathing and concentrating on different parts of the body contributes to mental and emotional peace. You can turn negative thoughts into positive ones, which helps you control anger, irritability, fear, apathy, and complex emotions. It enables us to lower stress and anxiety, relieves inflammation and strengthens the immune system.
4. Yoga boosts mood
Practising yoga directly affects mood and emotions, which are the main symptoms of depression. It reduces the intensity of emotional symptoms and provides a state of relaxation and tranquility. The state of relaxation helps us sleep better and more deeply.
5. Yoga improves hormonal balance
Regular yoga can improve the blood flow to the brain and regulate the happy hormones like dopamine, endorphin and naturally boost serotonin in our bodily system. Yoga can restore the hormonal and chemical imbalances caused by cortisol and improve our mood.
6. Yoga strengthens musculoskeletal system
The different asanas increase the flexibility of our muscles and strengthen ligaments, tendons, and fascias, which makes us stronger. These asanas stimulate different parts of the body and induces a pleasurable sense of well-being.
7. Yoga improves heart rate
By increasing the relaxation response over the stress response, yoga improves the heart rate variability (HRV), which is the change in the time between heart beats. A person with high HRV can well adapt to stress and is better at self-monitoring.
There is growing evidence indicating that yoga is a holistic practice for fighting depression and other disorders. Although yoga cannot replace pharmacological or psychological treatment, it is a safe, cost-effective, and appealing approach to better manage the symptoms of depression and overall health.
Thus, yoga and depression are related. Also, the scientific study of yoga proves that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent. There are different yoga asanas and some are highly strenuous and may not be appropriate for all age groups. It is suggested to practice yoga under expert guidance and those with mobility problems or elderly patients must consult health care experts to choose yoga as a treatment option.
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