Yoga for anxiety and depression
Article by Daveopton
Since the 1970s, meditation and other stress-reduction techniques have been studied as possible treatments for depression and anxiety. One such practice, yoga, has received less attention in the medical literature, though it has become increasingly popular in recent decades.
The mind, body and spirit are all connected and when a person suffers from mild depression or anxiety, the body is out of balance. Yoga is a series of stretches that helps bring balance to the body; not just focusing on the body’s health, but also on the mind and spirit. Always consult a physician or counselor if you are having ongoing feelings of depression or anxiety and before trying any new exercise program.
Anxiety disorders are quite common, affecting about 18 percent of American adults, and are complex in nature, most likely occurring as a result from a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental factors. While the traditional treatment of anxiety disorders with medication and Psychotherapy is effective, the stress reducing effects of yoga and meditation can reduce excessive levels of stress and anxiety, and can greatly enhance the effects of traditional therapies.
Pranayama (yogic breathing) and meditation will also be helpful to calm the mind and body, and to reduce stress and negative thinking. Besides the calming effects of a general yoga practice, restorative poses, inversions and forward bends are especially calming to the body and mind, helping to reduce and prevent excessive anxiety.
While mild anxiety is pretty much normal, it can be harmful in its higher levels. Severe anxiety can lead to conditions like nausea, difficulty in breathing, palpitations, fatigue, restlessness, and even head and chest pains. It will also put your body and mind in an extreme state of stress.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT YOGA POSES TO FIGHT DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
•Begin with the Lotus Position sitting crossed legged with hands resting on the knees, palms up. The most important thing is to remember to breathe. To calm the rapid breathing often accompanying panic attacks, focus on your breathing at first, a five count in and a five count out, but let the breathing become natural. Let the breathing set the rhythm of the practice. Eyes should be closed, listening to the rhythm of the breathing. After five or ten minutes here, the body should feel calmer.
•Fish pose is a terrific pose for opening the heart. Opening the heart with back-bending yoga positions is believed to not only expand the ribcage to give the lungs more room to breathe, but to open the spiritual heart center. Opening the heart, or stretching the chest, eases respiration, relieves stress by unclogging the tension in the tissue in the core. Lying on the back with the arms at the side, round the back and lean as far back on the crown of the head as is comfortable. Lay a bolster, yoga block or pillow under the back for support.
•Salabhasana or the Locust pose is a yoga posture. Lying on the belly with the arms alongside the body, lift the legs and arms together and lift the chest as high as is comfortable. This pose opens the heart, helps poor posture, depression, low energy, digestion, gas, bladder and back pain. Move into Dhanurasana or Bow pose, relax, then bend the knees and take hold of the feet with the hands. Pull back with the legs to help open up the heart and chest.
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