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Yoga to Alleviate Depression and Anxiety

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 symptoms of the most common mental health issues, depression and anxiety, thanks in part to deep breathing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 350 million people are suffering from depression. It's the most common illness worldwide and a 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. 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. Drawing a deep breath down into the diaphragmatic region takes more time to do than the rapid, short breaths we tend to take when facing 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 remedy to practice daily, though most doctors say it should not completely replace other traditional protocols 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. 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!

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