Why people suffering from anxiety and depression should try yoga
There are many reasons to take up yoga. It can improve your flexibility, strength, balance and overall fitness. But did you know it can also help those suffering from mental health issues; namely, anxiety and depression?
How can stretching, bending and breathing deeply do this, you may ask?
Well, we weren’t too sure either, so we asked Claire Nettley, President of Yoga Australia, to explain how it all works.
1. How does yoga help those suffering from mental health issues?
“Yoga and meditation can help with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression by helping to regulate the body’s stress response,” explains Claire. “Regular practice can decrease physiological arousal, lowering blood pressure and reducing heart rate. Through deep breathing and Pranayama practices, yoga can also improve the respiratory system, making you feel calmer and more resilient to external stresses.”
2. How often do you need to practice yoga to reap the benefits?
“Ideally, every day”, says Claire. “Even five minutes, three times a day can prove incredibly effective.”
“However you can still start to feel the benefits by attending 2-3 yoga classes a week with one of our registered teachers.”
To find a Yoga Australia registered teacher near you, visit:
3. Is there are specific type of yoga that's better for relieving anxiety and depression?
“Any type of yoga will help, but there are specific poses that can relieve specific symptoms,” Claire explains.
Here are some yoga poses that can boost your mental health:
Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)
This is great for grounding and centering. Simply lie on one side in the fetal position with your bottom to the wall, then roll onto your back and extend your legs. Place a pillow or blanket under your lower back and relax your arms to either side.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
This pose is useful for calming and nurturing. Start by sitting on your heels, then lower your chest and bring your forehead to the floor (or on top of a blanket or your fists if your head can’t reach the floor). You can outstretch your arms in front of you with palms on the floor, or bring your arms to your sides with palms facing up. If your bottom doesn’t touch your heels, place a blanket or two in between for extra support.
Corpse pose (Savasana)
This one helps you to relax and restore. A simple one, but no yoga session is complete without this final pose. Lie on your back and let your feet fall out to either side. Place your arms alongside the body with palms facing up. Relax your whole body including the face and allow it to feel heavy. Breathe naturally and enjoy the stillness!
4. Can yoga be used as an alternative to medication?
“We recommend you consult your doctor when making decisions regarding medication,” says Claire. “Yoga practice can complement your medication and therapy.”
Have you ever tried yoga? Did you know it could benefit your mental health?