How Yoga Helps Depression – The Scientific Evidence

An increasing number of scientific studies demonstrate that Yoga can help depression and low mood in a significant way – especially for milder cases.  Even as little as 15 minutes of Yoga a day can make a significant difference to mood levels.  We include three Yoga YouTube videos from experienced Yoga teachers that specifically target low mood, for you to try out immediately

Read on to find out more detail about Yoga for depression and the links to the Youtube videos.

What Contributes To A Sense Of Depression?

Most of us have felt low at some stage in our lives.

At times it may just be because it is cold outside or raining cats and dogs.   And there’s a good reason for this – a lack of the right amount of sunshine and light can cause what’s known as SAD – seasonally affected depression.  Something that can be addressed relatively easily with the right kind of light exposure.

Other times, we are facing difficulties in our personal lives or jobs that we can’t see a way through.  This can include issues such as perceived failure, an abusive situation at work or home, unrelenting stress, or the loss of a valued relationship or a loved one.  Overall, there are many factors that can contribute to low mood or depression.

In some cases, events that happened much earlier in our lives can also have an ongoing effect on our emotional state.  We may only have a vague memory of these, but their effects may persist in our current lives.  Further, unresolved trauma can also affect our present state of wellbeing.

In the case of a more serious case of depression, it is always advisable to seek the help of medical professionals – starting with your personal doctor.  They can guide you in the right direction to start addressing the issue in a proactive way.

How Does Yoga Help With Depression?

Most regular Yoga practitioners know that Yoga influences mood, anxiety and energy in a very positive way. It does this by helping release any stuck energy or “chi” so that it can move out of the body.

Yoga focuses on the breath.  This helps us relax and find a space where we can respond to our circumstances in a more positive way.

Yoga also fundamentally affects our emotional state at a nervous system and physiological level, with significant benefits to mood and wellbeing.

Check out our articles on the Emotional Benefits of Yoga and Why Yoga Feels So Good to find out much more detail about this.

Yoga For Depression – The Scientific Evidence

The scientific community has developed a growing interest in demonstrating the benefits of Yoga for depression – with many surprising results.

For example, a recent report by the American Psychological Association talks extensively about the benefits of Yoga as an effective therapy for depression.  In one of the documented studies, 74 mildly depressed university students received a 30-minute live instruction on Yoga.  Then, they were asked to practice Yoga for eight days at home, using a 15-minute instructional video.

Two months later, the participants had significantly reduced scores for depression, anxiety, and stress.  Not only that, these scores were much lower than for a comparative group that just did relaxation exercises.

Although it is noted that the study participants only suffered a mild level of depression, the results are important.

How Much Yoga Is Needed For Mental Health Benefits?

Effectively, a simple Yoga practice of just 15 minutes each day can have a big influence on how you feel and your overall wellbeing.

In the overall scheme of a day, 15 minutes is very minor and very doable.  Therefore, a little Yoga goes a long way.

If you feel like reading a bit more about the science behind Yoga and mood, read our article on Yoga, curiosity and happiness.  This delves into this a bit further into how Yoga can guide you towards greater happiness.

Yoga Sequences For Depression

Below we suggest three short Yoga routines that might get you started in the right direction.  These are slow and gentle.  They are very helpful in opening up the body, awaken the chi and get it to flow again.  Some Yoga asanas work particularly well for low mood and depression.

Remember, do only what serves your body: don’t do anything that feels painful or uncomfortable. Fall back to a good “standby” pose if necessary.  Otherwise, just use a few props to relieve any pressure points or sore joints – including a chair.

If anything is too much, just wait a pose out sitting on the floor or a chair.

In no time, your chi will rise again.  Soon, you will develop a sense of wellbeing no matter what the weather of life does around you.

1. Yoga For Depression – Yoga With Adriene

2. Yoga Poses for Anxiety, Stress & Depression Relief | 15 minute Relaxing Workout – by Healthy Approach

3. Yoga For The Winter Blues – Yoga With Adriene

Final thoughts

Yoga is just one of the tools in the overall toolbox to help depression.

However, significant and ongoing depression must be taken seriously.

If your depression is severe, please consult with your medical practitioner to map out the best path forward for you.


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