Yoga Therapy


To Alleviate Depression 
By Larah Davis, Yoga Therapy & Wellness Expert

According to the World Health Organization, depression  is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with 300 million people suffering globally. This mental health  disorder impacts physical health in many different  ways. It can also be a side-effect of chronic illnesses and can also be a sister to significant hormonal
changes including pre or post-natal, peri-menopause and menopause. In fact, its causes are many, including the deaths of loved ones, loss of job and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is “caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.” Those suffering from it can feel caught in a ‘black hole’ that they cannot climb out of because a depressed brain releases less serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation.

Yoga Therapy offers personalized programmes created from a holistic yogic toolkit including asanas and breath, synchronized movements, Yoga Nidra and mindfulness meditations. This is coupled with compassionate professional care that first addresses the symptoms, and through the process, often awakens the awareness required to heal the root cause. Yoga Therapy is safe to apply alongside medically prescribed antidepressants and can o!er a positive bridge from medication to more independent, empowering self-care.

Depression: a modern-day description of the Tamassic life-state

In clinical yoga therapy one of the yogic maps we  use to chart the connections between physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual symptoms and their causes are the ‘Gunas’ – or different qualities of being, which according to Yogic Philosophy, emerged from the ethereal ‘Prakriti’ – the essential substance from which all of life was formed. They are:

Tamas: Darkness, inertia, inactivity and materiality.
Rajas: Action, change, movement, attachment, ‘over’
doing things, reactivity.
Sattva: State of harmony, equilibrium, balance, joy
and intelligence.

The predominant becomes the ‘lens’ through which  you interpret the world. This shifts your whole perspective on and experience of life – thus, if you are chronically depressed, and have fallen into a Tamassic life state, even the brightest sunshine will seem clothed in dark, cold, clouds. Through Yoga Therapy, when bed feels like the best place to be, you can still take gentle, yet positive steps towards a warmer, lighter more positive Sattvic life state, one breath, one movement at a time. Here are 5 steps to take:

Make your INHALES (your intake of prana or vital life force energy) equal to your EXHALES to release sad, heavy feelings.

(1) Breath is life – Dirga Pranayama – 3-part
breathing – mindfulness in motion
* Can be done in bed – or on the floor/mat.
*Place your hands over your belly and inhale slowly, smoothly and deeply through your nostrils, inviting the breath to expand your belly as fully as you
comfortably can.
* Exhale navel slowly to spine.
* As you inhale, visualise light travelling through your mind, down through your vital organs.
* As you exhale, visualise, feel or sense any heavy, dark feelings and emotions being released.
* Repeat 10 breaths.
* Repeat 10 breaths with your hands at the sides of your ribs – opening your diaphragm like a parachute of light.
* Repeat 10 breaths with your hands over your heart chakra – in the center of your breastplate – opening your heart and lungs with light.

(2) Get rolling
Can be done in bed or on the floor/mat.
* Exhale bending your knees towards your chest, separate your legs and place your hands over your shins.
* Inhale your body to one side.
* Exhale to the other side.
* Continue to rock and roll from side to side.
* Repeat 10 times.

(3) Now you can feel the energy moving:
Roll over onto all fours for Cat /Cow and Shakti bhanda hip circles.
* Pressing your hands down into the earth, knees, hips and toes in one line, inhale your heart forward, slide shoulder-blades back and down. * Exhale to arch your navel to spine and back to the sky, pressing hands and feet down into the floor.
* Repeat 10 times
* Continue with hip circles – make your circles wide, free and loose, bend your hips, slacken your jaw and release and express sounds – any sounds you need
to make – as you exhale.
* NOW imagine you have a pencil between your legs, FOCUS YOUR GAZE on ONE POINT and draw figures of 8 with the pencil.
* Complete by sitting back on your heels, forehead to the earth, arms outstretched, rocking hips from side to side

(4) Open your heart and mind to the light
* Inhale to rise up on to your knees – stretching your  arms wide, look UP to the sky
* Imagine you are opening up to MORE light in your life from wherever you are, however you are feeling – chant ‘SAT NAM’ (I AM)
* Exhale to sit back down on your heels, forehead to the earth, arms by your sides
*Repeat 5 times
(5) (Re) Activate your ‘Anandamaya kosha’ – your good-feeling state with Nature-mindfulness meditation walks. * Walk mindfully – without your phone – and keep it simple, one breath at a time, one step at a time, one walk in nature at a time.

NOTICE any changes to your mood, energy,feelings or life-state from doing any parts of this  practice. One breath at a time, one day at a time.



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