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Healing Depression & Anxiety with Yogic Techniques

Treating depression with yoga and meditation. Do simple yoga asanas, meditation, tratak and pranayama at home.

Hey everyone! Nice to see you all again. Here’s a question. How’re you doing? I guess – fine. Well, you know how everybody says they are fine. However, it is just a reflex answer. Sometimes we are not fine. And many times we don’t even know that. With life throwing continual challenges at us, or with just its mundaneness, some of us start feeling anxious and low. In the current scenario of almost zero social contact and forced isolation due to the pandemic, doctors are dealing with treating depression and anxiety cases that are increasing alarmingly. Millions of people worldwide are suffering from this condition. One has a low feeling, sad emotions, mental strain, nervousness or just butterflies in the stomach. We all feel that way some time or the other. However, for some people, it lingers on and continues for days, weeks or even months. It begins to interfere with your life and tends to become a disorder. You must control it at the early stage. 

Over the centuries Yogis have adopted special asana practices, pranayama, Tartak and dhyana(meditation) to maintain a peaceful & calm state of mind.  These techniques are very effective in treating depression and anxiety. Everybody should practice them as they are therapeutic,  preventive, and necessary for general well-being.

Identifying and treating depression

Various factors such as disease, isolation, failure in career, relationship trouble, after delivering a child, or a difficult life situation contribute to depression. The reasons vary for adults, kids, students and married or single people. 

Since it is difficult to identify, unknowingly people continue to struggle with it, making it worse. Also, it plays havoc with their physical health. Depression typically has one or all of the following symptoms:

  • A persistent feeling of sadness
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Alterations in energy level & concentration
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Common symptoms of anxiety are nervousness, feelings of danger and fixating on worry, among others.

Defeat & Treat Depression with Yoga, Meditation

The science behind it

Depression with its negative thoughts triggers a chemical response in our body, which makes the glands release hormones such as cortisol, adrenalin, & prolactin. These are the stress hormones that enter the bloodstream & further increase anxiety and fear. It becomes a chain reaction. Psychologists consider it a medical condition per se and prescribe antidepressants to stop these hormones.

However, with yoga, we can entirely reverse this and trigger another chain of reactions that release the “happy hormones” – such as endorphins, serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. These hormones promote positive feelings – of pleasure, happiness, peace and even love. 

Treating depression with yoga and meditation. Do simple yoga asanas, meditation, tratak and pranayama at home.
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

Let’s get started!

First, you must keep yourself physically active. Start your day with a jog, nature walk or go swimming. It will energize and warm up the body so you can proceed with a workout. It is better to use a Yoga Mat for your Asana practice. Simply blend in the following Yogasanas or poses to release the happy hormones:

 Shashank Asana & Manduk Asana

  1. Sit with knees folded- Vajrasana.
  2. Breathe out and bend forward, arms keep arms straight & forward
  3. Put palms flat and head bent, forehead touching the ground ( if possible).
  4. Hold for 1-2 minutes for Shashank Asana.
  5. Repeat 3 times.
  1. Return to Vajrasana.
  2. Cover your navel with the palm of one hand. Cover with the other palm.
  3. Breathe out and bend forward as much as you can.
  4. Raise your head and look straight. Hold to complete mandukasana.
  5. Repeat 3 times.

Makar & Bhujang Asana

  1. Lie on the stomach for makarasana. 
  2. Raise yourself on your elbows and cradle your face in your palms.
  3. Breathe in and bend your legs first one by one and then together.
  4. Breathe out and straighten the legs.
  5. Repeat 20-25 times.
  1. For the Bhujang pose, place hands under the shoulder joint, with elbows close to the body.
  2. Exhale and lift the torso up in a smooth motion.
  3. Stretch the face upwards and hold for ten counts.
  4. Inhale and return.
  5. Repeat 3 to 6 times. 

Padmasana, Vajrasana and Ushtrasana

These three asanas are very simple to do, yet very effective in keeping tension and anxiety at bay.

  1. Come to the squat position. Lift each foot with your hands and place it on the opposite thigh. 
  2. Close your eyes and stay in Padmasana for 4-5 minutes, hands on knees in Gyan mudra ( thumb and index finger joined, other fingers straight). 
  1. Vajrasana is sitting on your toes, body erect, hands flat on bent knees and eyes closed.
  2. Stay for 3-5 minutes
  1. For Ushtrasana, start from vajrasana & raise yourself on the knees.
  2. Bend backwards and hold your toes. If you cannot, put both hands on the waist and, bend backwards and hold. Stay.

Tratak

Tratak has phenomenal benefits in treating depression with yoga. It gives you freedom from negative thoughts, relieves stress and brings an end to insomnia, among many other benefits. Make a corner in your house where you can sit undisturbed. Keep an oil lamp with a cotton wick and fill it with oil. You can take any oil but sesame seed oil, coconut oil or clarified butter(ghee) are best. Keep flower pots there as they are really uplifting. You can sit on the floor or in a chair. 

  1. Take an oil lamp, keep it at eye level, and light it.
  2. Clasp your hands and cross your feet.
  3. Fix your gaze on the flame or jyoti. Stare at it without blinking for as long as you can.  Your eyes will water but just ignore it.
  4. Slowly build up the practice to 20 or 30 minutes. 
  5. Afterwards, close your eyes and visualise the light within you. 

Breath Meditation

Mediation works wonders for calming the mind and bringing you to a peaceful and relaxed state. It is not only great for treating depression but also to increase your immunity. Breath meditation uses breath observation as a tool to empty the mind of thoughts. When the mind is empty it absorbs positive cosmic energy and transports you to a state of high consciousness and peace. Mediation or dhyana should be made a daily practice by all, as essential as taking a bath or eating food. And for those who want to embark on a spiritual path, the best way to start.

Treating depression with yoga and meditation. Do simple yoga asanas, meditation, tratak and pranayama at home.
  1. Sit in a squatting position or with your feet crossed and hands clasped. Close your eyes.
  2. Focus on your breathing. Observe your natural breath without altering it in any way.
  3. Whenever you feel you are getting carried away with thoughts, just bring yourself back to the observation of breath. 
  4. Stay like this for thirty minutes at least. Make it a daily practice.

Calming Bhramari Pranayama

Pranayamas are breathing yogic exercises that release stress and rid you of depressing thoughts. One of them is Bhramari, which has a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. It relaxes the mind and improves focus and sleep. 

Treating depression with yoga and meditation. Do simple yoga asanas, meditation, tratak and pranayama at home. Meenu Arora
  1. Sit erect. 
  2. Blocking your ears with the thumbs, place index figures on the forehead,  and cover the eye area with the rest of the fingers. 
  3. Take a deep breath and exhale with a humming sound( with an om) through the nose, like a bhramar or bee.
  4. Repeat for 5-6 cycles of breath or as much as you want. 

Surya namaskar

Surya namaskar or Sun salutations is a set of asanas designed as a continuum for overall mind and body workout. It starts and ends with the ‘namaste’ pose. It has anti-anxiety and calming properties. Surya Namaskar balances the endocrine glands’ activity and induces complete calmness and tranquility. It relaxes the nervous system and relieves stress and anxiety.  

  1. From standing position start asanas with Namaskar, Hasta Uttan, Hast Padan, Ashwa Sanchalan, Adhomukh Savana, Dandasana, Ashtanga Namaskar and Bhujang.
  2. Now go in reverse back to Namaskar position as shown on the left.
  3. Repeat the cycle with the other foot to complete one set.
  4. Do as many sets as you comfortably can. 

Last words

Those who regularly practice yoga and meditation are reported to be happier, healthier and more peaceful. The above yoga poses, Tartak and breath meditation are very simple, yet have multidimensional benefits along with treating depression and anxiety. 

Life is beautiful. Love yourself, take out the “me” time and say bye-bye to depression and anxiety. Fill up on the happy hormones!

Please comment on which of the above things you tried and have benefitted from. It inspires everyone!