Yoga Positions To Heal Depression And Prevent Burnout

How depression can affect a person?

Depression affects people from all kinds of different backgrounds and ages. It’s estimated that nearly 15% of adults will experience depression at some point in their lifetime. Up to 50% of all people with a depression diagnosis are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you can read more about yoga specifically for anxiety here. 

How Yoga Helps Depression

Yoga creates the necessary conditions for our nervous system to self-soothe and self-regulate. You can see the body as a safe container for emotional charge to move through, much like how a watering can holds and pours water. Yoga works with a system that people from all walks of life can engage with, helping the nervous system to rest in a vagal dominant state which basically means in a balanced state.

Things like depression draw people away from their stable centre and Yoga helps to gently bring people away from the outer extremities of depression and closer to the true nature of the Self. Big cities proved that you can take care of yourself wherever you are and that there are lots of good and useful options in a crowded place such as yoga classes, stress management courses and spiritual communities but why do we feel that this is simply not enough sometimes?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, overworked or becoming mentally stressed, a break and a new start must become your best friends. For some it might sound weird but the perfect combination for enjoying silence, being surrounded by nature and listening your soul is a yoga retreat in a foreign country.

Read and try out these important yoga postures before booking a yoga retreat as depression prevention.

My Experience of Depression as a Yoga Teacher

I have experience of both anxiety and depression. When I was at my lowest was the moment Yoga became a turning point in my life. When I handed over my faith to this path, trusting that written within my body is a blueprint that knows how to heal, I began to tap into my inner strength and zest for life. 

Self care became a priority and I realized that I am strong enough to handle whatever challenges come my way. 3 years ago, I decided to practice Yoga every single day and I have never looked back. Of course there have been ups and downs, but I now feel I have the tools to manage them well.

All that I  have passed through feels like it was meant to be, like I was supposed to learn how to overcome these difficulties in order to be able to support others in doing the same. So here is a sequence that you can do at home from anywhere in the world to help self-soothe in the midst of depression.

Yoga Sequence for Depression

Meditation

Begin in a comfortable seated pose, this could be cross legged, on a chair or kneeling, perhaps with the support of a bolster beneath you. Sit so that your spine can be long. Take 5 minutes here to check in with yourself, bringing your awareness to your body, your emotions and to how your energy levels feel. The goal isn’t to try to change how you are but just to bring awareness so that you can accept wherever you’re at with loving kindness and self-compassion.

4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. The reason for the exhale being longer than the inhale is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system response which helps the nervous system to down regulate into its restful healing state.

Slow Circles

From your seated position move the chest forward, round and back to make circles. Make the movement very slow becoming conscious of each sensation that arises in the body. Be sure to go in both directions.

Expansion and Contraction

Inhale to open your arms wide reaching the elbows back and exhale to wrap your arms around yourself, nodding the chin down. Continue to flow through these slow movements with the breath, always inhaling to expand and exhaling to draw the focus inwards.

Downward Facing Dog

In your down dog remember to keep a little softness in your elbows and knees as you reach the ips up and back, leaning the belly and chest towards the thighs. Keep all 10 fingers spread and feel the connection between all corners of the hands and the earth beneath.

Child’s Pose

Rest in child’s pose for as long as feels comfortable. You can pop a cushion between your bum and feet, a blanket under the head or hug a bolster. Find what makes you feel really supported here.

Savasana

This can be described as the most important posture! This really is what helps your body to integrate all the benefits of the Yoga Asanas. It also helps to bring you into the parasympathetic response (rest & digest.) You can listen to some music here or a guided savasana or simply rest in awareness of the silence. Surrender to stillness.

By Jasmine Sara

Themed Vegan Yoga Retreats Teacher at Akasha Wellness Retreat in Transylvania.