Feeling depressed or anxious? Try doing some Yoga and observe the effects on your mood. The combination of deep full breathing with gentle movements will calm your central nervous system within a matter of minutes by moving you out of “fight or flight” mode. Here’s a brief summary that will explain why I feel that yoga can be an important tool to help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
First I should mention that there are many kinds of yoga, and what I’m referring to is Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga focuses on linking deep, full breaths with the movement, and the deep breathing plays an important role in shifting moods. Depending upon the particular postures you choose, you can calm your anxiety if you’re feeling anxious, or lift your mood if you’re feeling depressed.
Yoga differs from other forms of exercise because of the concentrated effort placed on having the movements of the body flow with the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. In my mind this makes yoga a meditative process that has unique benefits. Like meditation it takes you out of the thinking brain and into the part of the brain that’s responsible for feelings of tranquility.
Another benefit of Yoga is feeling the integration of your mind and your body; working together in harmony. The literal translation of Yoga is union. The goal in yoga isn’t just to become flexible, although it’s clearly a benefit that occurs with regular practice. The goal is to unite mind and body in the present moment, no matter what’s happening. Notice I didn’t promise yoga would always make you feel happy, but over time it will help you build a sense of confidence with yourself as you learn to stay steady and breathe through whatever may be happening in life.
In depression there’s a dwelling and ruminating about things from the past, and with anxiety there’s a worrying about things to come. When we’re in these states, we miss out on life. My advice is to give Yoga a try!