Depression and Yoga : A collection of information and related research

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

yoga and depression yoga Iyengar asanas osom Open State of Mind

“For reducing depression: breath regulation and posture was considered most important” (Australia Yog Academy)

“A balanced nervous system, when applied to a person ability to mentally & physically with daily stress, can result in a better immune system, endocrine system, decreased heart disease, anxiety, depression etc, all of which are modern day problems caused by over-stimulation of the SNS” (Robin, 2002, p.155)

“Use yoga, pranayama, meditation and relaxation to coax the nervous system back into rest and repair mode”(Australia Yoga Academy)

“The mind is the King of the senses and the breath is the King of the mind” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika)

“Relaxed abdominal, diaphragmatic breathing in a calm manner is best, to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression” (Michael de Manincor’s research)

“The best meditation practices, especially or anxiety, are guided meditations, yoga nidra, 61 point meditations, with a specific focus and few instructions, rather than overly introspective (such as emptiness or inner silence)” (Australia Yoga Academy)

“Asana is more important for those with depressions” (Australia Yoga Academy)

yoga and depression yoga Iyengar asanas osom Open State of Mind

“Depression: This is a mood disorder that arouses feeling of not being in control, anger, or frustration. Other symptoms include an increase or decrease in appetite, sleep disorders, low self-esteem, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, suicidal feeling, and poor concentration” (B.K.S. IYENGAR YOGA The Path To Holistic Health)

“Depression: Proposed practices....kinetic practices that lead to extroversion, Sun Salutation, Warrior 1, backbends. To be avoided the long stay on postures , the forward bends and introverted ways of meditation” (Book: Teaching practices of Hatha- Yoga , Michel Filinis)

“Because depression is exhausting, restoratives are also an important part of the recipe for emotional wellness. Using props and supports when practicing restorative poses is particularly important for those who are depressed. “When the body sinks, the mind sinks,” says Apt.”(Yoga International, 5 Poses for Warding off Depression)

yoga and depression yoga Iyengar asanas osom Open State of Mind

“......when you’re feeling depressed, it is essential to practice some energizing poses—even when that’s the last thing you feel like doing. ”(Yoga International, 5 Poses for Warding off Depression)

“Why mountain pose? This is a good warm-up posture. The vigorous upward motion through the limbs and torso, and the spreading of the toes and fingers, will help invigorate your system and lift your spirits. ”(Yoga International, 5 Poses for Warding off Depression)


Research Summary

Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15-44, affecting more than 15 million American adults nationwide(ADAA, 2016).Results of a study showed the effectiveness of Iyengar Yoga, in addition to standard medical care, to improve the symptoms of chronic depression. Iyengar Yoga participants reported significant immediate changes in mood after each class. The study also showed:

· Reduced Symptoms of Depression

· Less Anger

· Lower Levels of Anxiety

· Fewer Neurotic symptoms

· Reductions in stress responsively

METHOD : Seventeen primary participants attended 60-90 minute classes over an 8-week period, approximately three sessions a week with a total of 20 sessions. Classes were led by Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers(CIYT). Inverion, back bending and restorative sequences were taught in progressive manner.


· Urdhva Hastasana

· Virabhadrasana 2

· Uttthita Trikonasana

· Virabhadrasana 1

· Pasarita Padottanasana (standing upright, looking up)

· Sirsasana

· Adho Mukha Vrkasana

· Ustrasana

· Urdhva Dhanurasana with upper back supported over top chair

· Urdhva Dhanurasana with support for hands

· Urdhva Dhanurasana dropping back, hands to wall

· Adho Mukha Svasana

· Bharadvajasana on chair

· Salamba Sarvangasana with support

· Savasana on bolster, with eyes open

This information is a summary of “Yoga as a Complementary Treatment of Depression: Effects of Traits and Moods on Treatment Outcome” ” available on Shapiro, D., Cook, I. A., Ottavianai, C., Leuchter, A. F., & Abrams, M. (2007, February 28). Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine

yoga and depression yoga Iyengar asanas osom Open State of Mind

Harvard Health Blog: Yoga could complement traditional treatment for depression

· “New research on yoga has yielded promising evidence that yoga could complement traditional treatment for depression.”

· “...these studies suggest that yoga can be a useful tool to consider alongside traditional forms of treatment for depression, such as medication or psychotherapy.”

· “One study of 23 veteran men found that doing yoga twice weekly for 8 weeks significantly reduced levels of depression.”

· “Two students of Bikram yoga, a specific series of 26 poses done in heated rooms, found that over eight weeks yoga reduced depression symptoms.”

· “A 2016 review of general yoga research supports this, finding that several styles of yoga yielded positive results. The most commonly studied styles of yoga are hatha yoga, which is a general umbrella term for yoga that includes movement and poses; an integrated approach, which combines yoga breathing, movement and poses, and meditative states; and Iyengar yoga, a form of Hatha yoga that emphasizes precise body alignment and breathing.”

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga written by Marlynn Wei, MD, JD and James Groves, MD

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