Yoga Therapy for Depression.
Image: Yoga For Depression
With the prevalence of
mood disorders in the world now a days, Yoga techniques are called upon more
often than ever to correct psychosomatic conditions like depression. Yoga
theory provides an excellent interpretation of this condition, which can itself
be a source of great comfort to the sufferer. The practical tools of the Hatha
Yoga system, when properly employed can then bring permanent relief from such a
condition, and most importantly, place a sense of self-empowerment back in the
hands of the sufferer.
A Yogic Perspective
Yoga psychology is
founded on the theory of the three gunas.
The gunas are the primal energies from
which all mind and matter are composed, and represent qualities or modes of
experience; Tamas, heaviness or
inertia; Rajas, passion or mobility;
and Sattva, peace and luminosity.
Every individual experiences the alternating dominance of each guna and Hatha Yoga’s central aim is to
increase the influence of sattva in
one’s mental and emotional life. Psychosomatic conditions are, therefore,
simply the excessive dominance of one of the undesirable gunas in the individual’s psychology.
Therapist Patricia Walden distinguishes two types of ‘depression’ in this
respect – one dominated by tamas, and
one dominated by rajas. A sufferer of
the first kind would be expected to show tendencies to lethargy and
hopelessness, whereas a sufferer of the second kind may show more agitation and
emotionality. When treating sufferers of depression with Yoga Therapy,
therefore, it is important to identify the extent to which they require
energizing practices, or methods of calming the mind. The therapeutic
destination in either case is the creation of a sattvic, balanced state of mind.
Yoga Therapy for
Begin with energizing
and heating pranayama such as Kapalabhati
for beginnersor Bhastrika Pranayama for
more advanced practitioners. Then, prioritize methods of conducting more prana into the body by practicing a
sustained deep Yogic breath throughout your practice. It is also important to
begin your practice at a brisk rate, incorporating lots of sun salutations,
perhaps developing multiple variations in order to keep the mind engaged.
Attention should be paid to the higher chakras, most particularly the heart and
third eye – in order to initiate a source of inspiration to take back into
daily life. Save relaxation until the end of your practice, when sattvais already flowing so you will not
get swept away by negative thoughts.
In some cases,
vigorous exercise may be useful as a method of burning off the energy of rajas. Whether or not this is the case,
it is wise to regain control of your whole system by maintaining a deep and
even breath throughout the whole practice. This can be cultivated by the
preliminary practice of Alternate Nostril Breathing, and the use of Ujjayi Pranayama throughout the sequence
as a method of harnessing the body-mind complex. Concentrate on methods of
grounding from the root chakra in order to create a sense of stability. It may
be wise to begin with plenty of standing poses to achieve a sense of grounding
and gradually bringoneself down to floor poses when feeling calm. Balance poses
are also very useful calming mechanisms when that initial sense of stability
has been achieved.
Kairali Yoga offers
expert Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda treatments for depression, anxiety and other
emotional difficulties. To find out more about Yoga Therapy at The Ayurvedic
Healing Village in Kerala, India, click here.