Depression is an obstacle
Depression is mentioned in the Yoga Sutras. They state that even though a sadhak (student) of yoga has a regular asana and meditation practice, distractions and obstacles can happen. Illness, laziness, doubt, instability, lack of progress are all obstacles. Depression is mentioned as one of the symptoms these distractions.
The Sutras state various techniques to elevate the obstacles like chanting a mantra (Om) and concentrating the mind on one symbol. But more importantly it advises identifying the true cause of these distractions. And tackling them prior to continuing the inward journey.
Yoga cures for Depression
Maha Bandha or the three hormonal locks: Jalandhar Bandha, Udiyaan Bandha, Mul Bandha done together or individually are effective in managing the hormonal balance in the body.
If there is a feeling of dullness, practicing Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Pranayam energises the body. Calmness can be brought about by Anulom Vilom and Ujjayi Pranayam.
The physical aspect of Yoga, can also ease the feeling of dullness because it infuses movement and breath to the body. There are many specific asanas that can lift the spirits and introduce fresh blood supply to the various parts of the body.
- Back bends are definite mood enhancers. They open up the heart and relieve stress from the shoulders.
- Inversions provide fresh oxygen to the brain, improves immunity and acts as a natural anti depressant.
- Surya Namaskars, the total body workout and the movement that Sun Salutations provide are enough to snap you out of laziness and procrastination.
Sometimes however the body also needs the more calming and restorative asanas like the Sharnagat surrender pose and Shavasana.
The benefits of mantra meditation are many. The vibrations and energy of chanting especially when done in a group, is something else. The combination of breath, rhythm and the acoustics of the chants can reduce anxiety and generate endorphis. It is known to reduce neurotic habits and is soothing. When done in a group it cultivates compassion and you feel part of the community. It is easy and free and liberating to most people.
The inward journey of meditation, connects you to your soul and brings about awareness to your body and mind. Simply sitting still, being aware of breath and observing the mind has tremendous benefits, self acceptance, reducing anxiety, mindfulness in every day living are just a few that come to mind.
Depression is an illness and the first step towards identifying and getting a good diagnosis for the cause of it. Yoga may not be the cure to depression but it provides techniques to cope. A regular yoga practice will most certainly keep you healthy in body and mind.
Connecting to your breath will bring peace, self acceptance and confidence. Looking inwards makes you feel connected with yourself. And the awareness that comes with time will enable you to deal with situations that caused you stress and anxiety in the past. Thus, Yoga gives you a mechanism to bring your attention back to the current moment, when you find your mind wandering off.
Love and Light