In any given year, 9.5% of the population of the U.S will be affected by a depressive disorder. And most of them are either too embarrassed to seek help or will turn to medication for relief. For those with severe cases, medication is the only option, but for many people with mild to moderate depression or anxiety, like myself, there are healthier alternatives that dont carry the risk of side effects.
Ancient yogis have long held to the belief that bringing peace to the mind also brings peace to the body. Through simple lifestyle changes, they wrote, one can restore balance to the body and empower oneself with tools to establish greater emotional stamina and alleviate anxiety and depression. More and more modern therapists are subscribing to this school of thought and successfully introducing yoga into their treatment plans. Amy Weintraub, the founder of LifeForce Yoga, has recently released a new book specifically for therapists working with clients in psychotherapy settings. Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management explores emotional and biochemical self-regulating strategies. These include easy meditations, breathing techniques and hand gestures not always found in regular yoga classes. These simple exercises dont require the ability to practice strenuous yoga postures or even the use of a mat.
That's the beauty of yoga: It's accessibility to nearly everyone. Young and old, healthy and not so healthy can find techniques to suit their abilities and needs. For those afflicted by anxiety or depression, there are simple programs that can be practiced in the comfort and privacy of home that can bring some relief and peace of mind.
People who struggle with depression can use sound, or chanting, to energize and release blocks in the core of the body, which tends to get dormant and sluggish in people with depression says, Weintraub. What happens is that we're actually stimulating those areas and releasing blocks of stagnant energy.
One of Amy Weintraubs techniques can be found on her website, YogaU.com. Called Breath of Joy, this simple and energizing exercise awakens your entire system increasing oxygen levels in the bloodstream, temporarily stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, circulating more prana, and gently stroking agni. The forceful exhalation lightly detoxifies the body and helps release pent-up tension.
I know I'll be trying this tonight at home!