Yoga for Anxiety + Depression: What, Why, How?

bridge pose

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a discipline and practice to find peace within the mind, body, and soul. It’s a life-time journey or process of reconnecting the self (you, me) with the universe, and being one with the universe. Learn more here about the different types of yoga. 

Why does yoga help anxiety & depression?

  1. Teaches relaxation through breath, movement (or asana), and self-awareness. Muscle tension is a HUGE symptom of anxiety and depression. Yoga calms and regulates the nervous system and gets your energy circulating again (so your physical bones, muscles, organs etc. can become balanced and you can start reconnecting with your mind)
  1. Brings awareness of negative thought cycles, obstacles, and suppressed emotions. Eventually, yoga helps to let go of negativity and retrain ourselves to calmly and confidently respond to stressful situations.
  1. Lastly, yoga teaches you to listen to your body, so you learn what your body needs on a daily basis. Do you need more/less sleep? More/less food? A certain yoga sequence? Company or alone time? Service to others or to a higher being?

How Does Yoga Help?
Yoga Sequences Shift Your Mood

Every yoga class is designed with a specific yoga sequence that contains poses or a series of poses to alter your mood. The following explains the purpose of each part of a yoga sequence, and what your body might feel during them + examples of poses.
***Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting “A Pose A Day,” based on the categories below where you’ll be assigned one pose to practice everyday. I’ll explain exactly how to get into the pose, how long to hold the pose, and how you might feel <333


Beginning and end of class
Meditative/Intuitive. Calm and tune into your body 

Sun Salutations
Heat and release of toxins. Helps rid anxieties. Connect the breath with single movements. The flow of these repeated movements will help calm and reconnect your mind with your body.

Standing Positions
For strength and focus. (Focusing is so hard when you first start!!)

Balancing Poses
To help focus. Yogi’s often say “ground or center.”

Hip Openers
To release stress (most of our stress lies in our hips) **tears or frustrated feels are normal here**

Heart Openers
Allows more space for the breath. Can be an emotional release. These include backbends. **tears are o.k. here xox*

Twists
Rids of toxins. Adds moisture to the spine.

Forward Folds
To relax. ***Held forward folds are good for some types of anxiety and panic, but not for depression**

Inversions
Change your perspective. Helps boost mood.

Savasana
Teaches full relaxation.

Your First Yoga Assignment !!!

  1. Make a playlist of your favorite music that calms you (and doesn’t bring up bad memories).
  2. Clear a space for your yoga practice in your home. Make it look pretty and smell nice.
  3. Pick a candle for your practice. 

P.S. Currently, I like to listen to Local Natives Hummingbird album during my practice.
hummingbird

But wait…there’s more!

This is only Part 1 of our Yoga for Anxiety and Depression series, so there are tons of more beautiful knowledge coming your way! Tomorrow’s article will start a series called a “Pose a Day” where I’ll assign you a pose to practice everyday. At the end of the week, I’ll assign you a whole yoga sequence (you’ll have a lovely video to watch/practice hehe) catered to a specific type of depression, anxiety, or panic you face. Then…I will muster all the courage I have, and post my stories of the cycles of depression + panic disorder I’ve worked through, and how yoga has helped me through each battle.
…and tons more to help you with your practice !!

Sending ++posi vibes++
-Shay of TSIB

Links to full Yoga for Anxiety and Depression series:
A Pose A Day: Downward Facing Dog
A Pose A Day: Half Sun Salutation
A Pose A Day: Thread the Needle
A Pose A Day: Bridge Pose
A Pose A Day: Warrior 2
A Pose A Day: Sun Salutation A
A Pose A Day: Easy Twist
A Pose A Day: Tree Pose
A Pose A Day: Legs Up The Wall

 

Sources:

Book 1 #2 The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.

sutras book 1 number 2  1

Sources:

Yoga Journal – Yoga for Depression Part 1 by Timothy McCall
Yoga Journal – Poses for Depression + Anxiety
YogaWorks 200 Hour and 300 Hour Teacher Trainings
Guidance from my yoga mentor, Ashley Rideaux.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
My personal experience as a yoga instructor and practitioner.