By Gopi Rao
Due to the needs of our students, specialized yoga teacher training intensives for depression are continuing to grow. In a specialized yoga certification course, teachers learn practical methods that help everyone in our communities.
Depression is more than feeling blue from time to time. Chronic depression causes extreme feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, sadness and anxiety. Millions of people who suffer from depression are looking for ways to ease these feelings and live normal lives. While many turn to prescribed medications to limit the negative emotions and habits, there is also some evidence that yoga training, physical activity and lifestyle changes can benefit those suffering with depression.
Yogic beliefs include the all-important idea that when the mind is at peace the body will follow. Perhaps the Buddha (Prince Gautama Siddharta) said it best, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
Yoga Asanas for Depression
There are many specific asanas that cater to those battling depression by encouraging inner reflection and release coupled with feelings of comfort. Below I have listed my personal favorites and hope that you will share them with your students in times of need.
Child’s Pose – Balasana
Child’s pose brings ultimate feelings of safety, comfort and peace. Try this pose when life seems overwhelming or you are unable to cope. Perform child’s pose by sitting on your knees, then lowering your upper body forward to rest on the mat. Rest the forehead on the mat and place the arms outstretched in front of the body or let them rest beside the body with the fingers pointing behind you.
Forward Bend – Uttanasana
Along with providing an invigorating stretch to the entire back of the legs, the forward bend lets the blood flow to the brain. It is then redistributed throughout the body upon coming out of the pose. This brings a renewed sense of energy and optimism toward the day. The forward bend encourages a contemplative state of mind where negative thoughts and feelings can be banished. Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend from the waist. Allow your head, neck, shoulders and arms to release and hang. The weight of your upper body will pull itself down. You may hold onto your elbows, let your hands dangle or place them on your ankles or feet.
Legs Up the Wall – Viparita Karani
Legs up the wall is a yoga pose that makes you feel grounded and present. It can benefit someone who is feeling depressed or hopeless by encouraging gratitude and living in the present moment. Lie next to a wall on your back. Scoot forward until your hips are next to the wall, resting your legs up the wall. Place your legs together with the feet flexed. Let your arms rest comfortable at your sides.
Notes for Yoga Instructors
It’s time to breakout your old notes from yoga teacher training. There are many great yoga asanas for relief from depression. Paulji would recommend Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge) because it is a mild inversion and back bend making it a very powerful anti-depressant. All back bends and inversions give students relief from depressed states of mind. Some of the yoga postures that come to mind are: Cat, Cow, Locust, Cobra, and Fish. Due to the specific medical conditions of each student make sure that yoga students who practice back bends and inversions have their doctor’s approval.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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