Five Yoga Poses That Combat Depression

“Yoga’s unique mind-body approach is being used more and more to reduce stress in cases of PTSD, treat depression, and to enhance overall well-being. The following three studies provide some insight into the benefits of yoga for depression and anxiety:

One study reported that GABA levels increased after a session of yoga in experienced practitioners. GABA acts as a neurotransmitter which inhibits nerve transmission to the brain, resulting in calming and quieting the mind.

In another study of women suffering from mental distress, the women showed “significant improvements on measures of stress and psychological outcomes” after participating in a 3-month Iyengar yoga class.

13 psychiatric inpatients were studied to determine the effects of yoga on mood. Participants reported significant improvements in tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, fatigue-inertia, and confusion-bewilderment…Here are five poses that can specifically help with depression:

Forward fold (Uttanasana). In Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar says about Uttanasana, “Any depression felt in the mind is removed if one holds the pose for two minutes or more.”

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana). This seated forward fold is calming for the mind, stretches the hamstrings and groin, and stimulates the liver and kidneys [1].

Cobra (Bhujangasana). This backbend can be done in stages. It expands the chest and gives elasticity to the lungs [1].

Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) . Bridge pose is a backbend that strengthens the legs, opens the chest, and stimulates the abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid. Supported bridge, done with a block under your sacrum, is a nourishing restorative version.

Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana). Sirsasana is called the “king of all asanas.” [1] Inversions literally turn your world upside down and give your brain cells a fresh supply of blood. Attention and presence are essential in this pose and thus a great way to pause your thoughts and renew your perspective. Restorative versions of sirsasansa, done with props, are an option as well.”

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