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Yoga & Depression

by Michael Teh

More studies today are using randomized controlled trials to understand the relationship between yoga and depression. And according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, recent studies have suggested that yoga can relieve symptoms of depression.

“Yoga, a physical exercise that involves different body poses, breathing techniques and meditation, may be a form of therapy that can help with depressions and its symptoms such as difficulty concentrating or loss of energy.”

There are more studies today that are using randomized controlled trials to understand the relationship between yoga and depression. That said, randomized controlled trials are the best way to verify study results. And according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, recent studies have suggested that yoga can help reduce the impact of stress, help with anxiety and depression, be a self-soothing technique – similarly to meditation, relaxation, and exercise as well as improve one’s energy.
Yoga, a physical exercise that involves different body poses, breathing techniques and meditation, may be a form of therapy that can help with depressions and its symptoms such as difficulty concentrating or loss of energy. Today, many people are turning to yoga therapy to manage their mental and emotional problems such as stress, anxiety or depression, conditions and disorders like ongoing lower back pain, chronic or long-term pain and overall health and wellbeing.
So how does yoga therapy work? According to Dr Mason Turner of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, he said that yoga therapy can be very powerful in treating depression. And even though yoga may not be your cup of tea, the combination of meditation and physical movement provide two important elements to relieve depression.

Through meditation, it helps bring a person into the present moment and allows them to clear their mind while controlled and focussed movements help strengthen the body-mind connection. In addition, in a study, breathing exercises known to be remarkably effective in reducing depressive symptoms. 1 Hence, yoga would be an ideal exercise as it focusses on deep and controlled breathing. And when you start practicing yoga daily, it will naturally increase serotonin production. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, serotonin production plays an essential role in treating depression. It is also believed that serotonin plays a major part in happiness. Through the practice of yoga, it helps to improve your mood and help you relax because of its gentle, calming and fluid nature. At the same time, it emphasizes on breathing, concentration and smooth movement, while helping you to focus on positive images to soothe the body and
mind.
Additionally, yoga may help to reduce stress and anxiety as it increases one’s heart rate variability (HRV), or change in time between heart beats, by increasing the relaxation response over the stress response in one’s body. That said, a high HRV means that one’s body is better at self-monitoring or adapting, in particular to stress. Next, yoga can help reduce one’s resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, ease breathing and increase one’s pain tolerance.

With studies shown that yoga therapy may help deal with stress, anxiety and depression, it is not to be taken as a sole treatment but as a complement to traditional therapies, medication and psychotherapy. Having that said, the style of yoga that I practice with my students is called Integrative Yoga where I combine Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa, QiGong, Yoga Nidra and Meditation. The combination of yoga poses and QiGong movements cultivate both moving meditation and sitting meditation ultimately leading to stillness of mind; feeling peace, love and light. And if you’re searching for a yoga instructor to help get you started, feel free to reach out to me via email at hello@iammichaelteh.com as I’d like to journey with you to overcome your stress, anxiety or depression.

Source: Healthline.com

Michael Teh, 22nd December 2020.