New studies are being done all over the world that have found yoga to be one of the best and most effective ways to melt away the most common mental health disorders, depression and anxiety, thanks in part to deep breathing. According to the World Health Organization, over 350 million people are suffering from depression. Depression is the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability.
Yoga, which is a Sanskrit word for “yolk” and “union,” aims to blend together intentional body movement and breath. Its numerous health benefits range from physical and emotional to psychological benefits in just a few weeks. Medical doctors and health care professionals are now recommending that people suffering from mental health disorders like depression and anxiety take yoga classes two to three times a week.
From a scientific and medical standpoint, the consistent practice of any style of yoga helps to boost the immune system and calm the central nervous system. One study done by the American Psychological Association concluded that breathing-based yoga practices alone helped to improve depressive symptoms. This is because drawing a deep breath down into the diaphragmatic region takes more time to do than rapid, short breaths (which is done when someone faces stress). Deep breathing also helps to bring more oxygen into the body and brain, where the nervous system relaxes and calms.
Rhythmic, deep breathing also helps the body to naturally increase serotonin production. Serotonin plays a very important role in mood and is linked to happiness. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, serotonin production plays a big role in treating depression successfully, saying a routine yoga practice with deep breathing is imperative to the success of winning the battle over chronic depression.
Therapy with Almost Zero Side Effects
Yoga also has fewer side effects than medications, so it is a wonderful natural and good-for-you remedy to practice daily, though most doctors say it should not completely replace the traditional protocol for depression. But yoga is especially good for people who have not responded well to prescriptions or therapies. At most, people who engage in regular yoga report some muscle soreness, but those side effects are far less damaging than taking prescription drugs for a long period of time.
Dr. Mason Turner of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, who is a strong advocate of yoga therapy for people who have anxiety or depression, says that even if yoga is not your regular go-to method for relaxation and tension easing, people should really try it out and consider it. The combination of meditation and physical movement provides two important elements for relieving depression, because meditation helps bring a person into the present moment and allows them to clear their minds. Furthermore, controlled, focused movements also help strengthen the body-mind connection.
Styles of Yoga
There are so many different styles and types of yoga, from gentle and slower-paced Hatha yoga to a more rigorous and faster-tempo Vinyasa yoga. There are also aligned and sequenced poses from the Ashtanga lineage of yoga to the prop-filled Iyengar yoga that utilizes blocks, chairs, and straps to help you find the perfect body alignment. Online videos make practicing yoga anywhere very accessible, and yoga studios are popping up in cities faster than coffee shops. There are so many ways to get your breathing and body movement started and your mind and mood on the rise!