Why Depressed People Can Often Manage Practicing Yoga


There are many scientific reasons why yoga is good exercise choice for people with depression.

Practicing yoga helps us become mindful of the present, reduces stress, and helps balance the body’s hormones. Research suggests yoga increases the release of our feel-good neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, GABA, dopamine), and promotes neurological growth.

However, some of the most compelling reasons for doing yoga—from a depressed person’s point of view—are not scientific or noble. They involve the compatibility of yoga with people who feel lethargic, sad, and unmotivated.

Six Reasons Depressed People Can Manage Yoga

  1. Some yoga poses require strength, but many of them are more about relaxing into a stretch, such as doing a seated forward bend. Relaxing into something does not require much energy or motivation. It actually feels a bit as if you are giving up struggle or letting-go which can be a relief if you are depressed.
  2. Going to a yoga class gets you out of the house and around others—something people with depression are often recommended to do. However, you can also do yoga alone, at home. There are YouTube and other free online videos that teach yoga basics if you do not wish to purchase yoga books or DVDs.
  3. If feeling tired or lethargic, you can scatter yoga poses throughout the day instead of going through a series of them. If you are depressed, the thought of practicing a yoga series or routine may be overwhelming, whereas doing one pose every couple hours is doable. Plus, many yoga postures can be done sitting on a chair, or lying down.
  4. When people are depressed they do not always feel like moving. With yoga, you can stay in one pose as long as you like. Some of the postures are comfortable to maintain for several minutes or more—so you can exercise and not move simultaneously.
  5. Yoga postures can be adjusted to suit anyone’s fitness level. You do each pose the best you can and without straining your muscles or joints. Gently does it. However, if you are out of shape or have medical issues, talk to your doctor before starting any type of exercise.
  6. When you are feeling better, you can easily increase your yoga practice to suit a higher energy level. If depressive symptoms recur, it is just as easy to scale the practice back.

Yoga not only keeps the body flexible, but the practice itself is flexible enough to suit anyone, even those struggling with depression. A few poses each day can relax your muscles, quiet the mind, and help you feel connected to your body and yourself.

Photo credit: Eli Christman


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