Many people living with depression often go through years of trial and error to find an effective treatment. Although medication and therapy can be beneficial, there’s always room for improvement in treating this difficult condition. Whether conventional treatments are completely ineffective or not providing sufficient relief of symptoms, yoga can provide hope.
At least two forms of Hatha yoga have shown promise in improving mood. One such form is Iyengar yoga which emphasizes physical alignment through various postures. Proper form is a fundamental component of Iyengar yoga. Participants use various props such as straps and blocks during the process, especially as beginners. The use of props can also provide assistance to people experiencing physical limitations. Iyengar yoga has traditionally been used to improve physical ailments and provide effective stress relief. Research has found that people with depression, who regularly participate in Iyengar yoga classes, report an elevated mood.
Various techniques of Pranayama, also a form of Hatha yoga, have been linked with improving depression symptoms. Pranayama places an emphasis on breathing techniques where the participant develops meditative control over their breathing. These practices have provided some people with reductions in stress and anxiety.
For those interested in pursuing yoga as a treatment for depression, a quick search on the internet may reveal local studios offering various types of yoga. Additionally, some studios offer specialized classes for the treatment of depression and offer some good resources as well LifeForce Yoga. Receiving specialized yoga instruction for depression does not have to be expensive. With a solid foundation from in-class instruction—whether in a group setting or private lessons—many yoga techniques can be worked on in the privacy of one’s own home. From neighborhood bookstores to the internet, there are numerous learning resources available, including online yoga workouts, DVDs, books, and magazines.
The evidence supporting yoga for the treatment of depression is varied, but most report positive results. Several controlled studies have been performed and it is an evolving line of research. Improvements in depression have been reported in people experiencing different intensities of symptoms, various types of depression and bipolar disorder. Each situation is unique, but some people have found yoga to be their primary tool in effectively treating depression. Others use yoga in conjunction with other treatments. Easy to perform yoga meditation can help quiet the mind and improve your well being off the mat.
Since there are few physical limitations that may prevent a person from trying yoga, and programs are available for all fitness levels, why not give it a try to see if it will help you manage anxiety and depression?
[Editor's note: This is a guest post by Erica Hill, who works with Gaiam TV, a healthy lifestyle media company that specializes in online yoga workouts and