Yoga and depression

I have started a 21 day yoga challengeprimarily using a DVD with this title.…  It is a 4 disc set with many options. Yesterday my hips were tight so I did the Hip Extension 30 minute practice after my normal morning routine.  It definitely helped.

I am also using Rodney Yee’s AM & PM Yoga (This remains my favorite short video and I often use it first and then do another routine.  It is the first DVD I bought and I have it almost memorized and LOVE it!), I also do Element’s AM & PM yoga, it is significantly more challenging than Yee and invigorates me(All are available on Amazon.)  I find that starting my day with yoga helps me ease into the day and improves my mood, Also, even if I am having trouble with my plantar fascitis and/or a mildly bad GP day, I am still able to do yoga whereas a more robust cardio workout would not work so well.

I try to attend a wonderful yoga class taught by Esther Retish and an amazing restorative yoga practice for breast cancer survivors. Unfortunately, the anxiety and depression often cause me to not want to leave the house, and certainly not to drive in those darn parking ramps. Esther is kind enough to pick me up for the Tuesday class so I don’t opt out at the last minute,
I didn’t make it to any of the classes this week, but so far I have done yoga every day but Wednesday when I was really not feeling wellI’m trying to avoid “all or nothing” obsessing about the 21 day challenge HAVING to be 21 consecutive days with no exceptions. (Though I am still disappointed in myself for missing a day… perfectionism rears its ugly head. )

Here is an article on yoga and depression: Yoga as Depression Treatment By Chris Iliades, MD | Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH. Link:
They found that research shows that yoga offers plenty of depression-fighting benefits, and millions of Americans practice yoga to ease depression, anxiety, and stress.

How does it work? The benefits of yoga for depression have been studied since the 1970s. One recent study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine looked at brain scans of people practicing yoga and found that the exercise boosted their levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric GABA (low levels of GABA are linked to depression and anxiety). In addition, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that there is growing evidence to support the following benefits of yoga:

  • better stress management
  • improved mood and sense of well-being
  • positively altered brain and blood chemicals
  • increased ability to cope with anxiety, insomnia, and depression

This article also had some interesting information.
It states that yoga is an effective natural treatment for acute anxiety disorder and depression and may be superior to other forms of exercise for mood and anxiety. They stressed that daily practice of meditation is essential in treating depression and anxiety. Yoga calms the nervous system, lowers the heart rate, eases the mind and teaches us to slow down breathing and relax the body.
Practicing asanas helps counteract anxiety-driven depression as itreduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. A regular yoga routine of Asanas and stretching stimulates metabolism and increases energy. Meditation and breathing exercises stabilize and soothe the mind. Yoga not only helps to stop destructive obsessive thinking, but also trains the mind to attain calmness.
Yoga is a great part of my holistic journey to wellness. I encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Namaste’


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