By Faye Martins
In regard to meeting the needs of students who experience depression, there are specialized yoga teacher training courses to meet the need. There are many options within Yoga for students who are looking for a therapeutic method to purge negative thoughts from within.
Those suffering from depression often feel sad and hopeless. They might lack energy or drive to get through even the most basic kind of day. Depression can be a vicious cycle, where the more you give in to negative thoughts and feelings, the more invasive they become. Many people turn to medication to get out of depressed states of mind, but there are other more simple and inexpensive ways to beat depression. Exercise and a healthy diet can be extremely effective in combating depression. Yoga is a gentle, low-impact way to stretch and strengthen the body while releasing the mind and heart from negativity.
The choice of whether to practice gently or vigorously comes down to a student’s current health condition and the effectiveness of each approach. Luckily, the Yogic path has many highways. An easy way to classify physical styles is hard and soft. Ashtanga Vinyasa might be considered hard, while a gentle style like Restorative Yoga holds asanas for minutes, while using every prop imaginable.
A rather vigorous series of asanas, or postures, can help ease depression by getting the heart rate up and allowing the mind to focus on the poses instead of worries and concerns. Physical exercise that gets the body moving also causes feel-good endorphins to flow through the body which can ease the effects of the negativity associated with depression. Some people will respond well to this type of yoga program where there is little time to dwell on anything more than the position of the body or the intensity of the breath. This brings sufferers a sense of relief for a short period of time, allowing them to realize that they might have more control over negative thoughts and emotions than they thought.
For some people, meditation is the key that allows them to truly release the depressed thoughts from their bodies. Meditation allows you to sit with the negativity just long enough to acknowledge that it’s there and then release it. The negative energy can then consciously be replaced with positive energy. Meditation promotes a sense of peace and calm throughout the entire body and spirit. Those with depressed states of mind often have an inner sense of disquiet. They can work to release the unsettled emotions through meditation. It also encourages a sense of mindfulness or appreciation for each small moment in the day. Those who sufferer with depressed feelings can begin to see that as each moment passes there are things to be grateful for. It’s important to remind students who are suffering to avoid dwelling on all of the negative emotions that often permeate their being. With practice, it will become easier to let them go and invite more positive thoughts.
The act of yogic breathing is often overlooked as a therapeutic tool for many types of ailments, including depression. Teach students with depressed states of mind to breathe deeply, filling up the abdomen, chest and lungs. Then ask them to release the breath along with all of the negative emotions. As they breathe new air back in, ask them to picture positive energy entering the body.
Side Notes for Yoga Teachers
Any student who is experiencing a depression needs to consult with a professional. One statistic states that 15% of all suicides are a result of depression. That figure seems outrageously low, but whatever the number is, we know there is risk involved, when someone is untreated. Many Psychiatrists and Psychologists recommend Yoga, so we have a harmonious relationship with the mental health field.
Therefore, don’t become a counselor if you aren’t qualified. You can be a teacher, friend, guide and a sounding board, but for full recovery to take place, we need to let counselors do their job.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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