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Yoga For Depression and Anxiety

Yoga is a popular practice that combines physical activity, mental well-being and spirituality.  It originated in India and has many religious practioners.  These religions include (but are not limited to) Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Yoga in Western Societies

In Western societies, yoga is used as an exercise and relaxation method.  Studies have shown that yoga helps with depression and anxiety. it is considered a mindful based stress reduction activity.  Yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety by linking the body with the mind and promotes a more peaceful state of mind. Depression and anxiety differs fro person to person.  Because of this, not all forms of medicine or every yoga pose will be helpful to the sufferer.  Yoga helps to promote healthy behaviors, recognize internal constraints, challenges your body as an excercise4, and helps to regulate your breathing.  It also helps with focus issues, which someone with anxiety may struggle with.  Having to focus on your senses only and internalized feelings helps you become more aware of the e4xternal forces that may bring negativity.  It also helps to increase the gamma-amino butyric within your body one hour after completing a yoga session, which also promotes positive emotions and feelings. (also called GABA).

Some poses (or asanas) that can help with depression and anxiety sufferers are as follows:

Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar, are a series of poses that flow and require complete concentration. Beginner yogis will find that these can be difficult.  However, master ing these basics will increase self-confidence and esteem because not only have you pushed your physical limits but you have begun seeing the mind body connection that is required to do these positions.

Arm Balances

Arm balances are very strenuous on the body.  Any pose that requires upper body strength is very challenging.  When conce3ntrating on these poses, practitioners will find themse4lves not thinking about the causes of their anxiety but trying to remain balanced.  As a person balances themselves physically, they begin to find an inner balance between their anxiety and depression and relaxation.

Backward Bends

Backward bends are restorative and give you energy.  Any pose that inverts you (turns you upside down) will help to promote blood flow and oxygen to the brain and increase positive moods.

Fish Pose

Fish Pose is great for people who suffer from anxiety and depression.  It helps by releasing tension in the core muscles.

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose, or SetuBandhaSarvangasana is another pose that energizes users.  This pose stretches the abs and works the lungs and thyroid muscles.  It helps to promote oxygen throughout the body.

Corpse Pose

Corpse pose is the ultimate pose for relaxation.  No effort is used in this pose because you are lying on the floor with your palms facing the ceiling and your eyes closed.  This pose is done at the end of most yoga classes  Although this pose requires no physical exertion, it is the most challenging because it requires complete and total relaxation.

Meditative Chanting

Chanting calms your emotions.  It also helps make meditation easier.  The person that is meditating ends up focusing solely on the sounds that they say and hear, their breathing and the rhythms of their breath and the sounds.  This helps to promote Neuro-Lingual transmitters.  Repeating mantras, or positive affirmations help to reinforce positive thinking by the person who is repeating the mantras.

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