5 Ways Yoga May Help With Depression


By: Gaia Staff  |  February 3, 2014

1. Yoga Teaches Mindfulness

Mindfulness is now widely known as a cure-all for depression. It works so well it got incorporated into numerous widely accepted psychotherapies for depression such as acceptance and commitment therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Psychotherapy aside, there are numerous ways to train yourself to be more mindful, and yoga is one of them. It also provides numerous other benefits.

2. Yoga Promotes Depression-Fighting Neurotransmitters

There are studies that show that yoga increases production of serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which are lowered in depression (Cramer, Lauche, Langhorst, & Dobos, 2013). Yoga doesn’t only work on the level of neurotransmitters; it also improves our hormonal health.

3. Yoga Corrects the Distribution of Hormones Related to Depression

Various forms of Pranayama, such as Bhastrika Pranayama, increase levels of oxytocin which decreases depression by increasing an overall feeling of well-being.

Additionally, yoga has scientifically been proven to decrease the stress hormone cortisol which has been directly associated with depression. A 2013 study (Thirthalli et al., 2013) has shown that yoga decreases serum cortisol levels in depressed individuals, whether they take medication or not. Incidentally, the same study has shown that antidepressants don’t have any influence on cortisol levels. Additionally, the same study has shown that lower levels of cortisol is correlated with decreased rates of depression. The longer you do yoga the less depressed you are.

The interesting thing is that it’s not entirely clear how decreased cortisol levels might alleviate depression. One explanation is that a lower level of cortisol increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain, which brings me to my next point.

4. Yoga Helps Your Brain Grow

Studies have shown that yoga increases the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) that promote the growth and differentiation of new synapses. It’s also vital for the survival of existing neurons. The increase in BDNF, which happens in yoga, is scientifically proven to decrease depression.

5. Yoga Increases Our Ability to Handle Stress

All of those things combined increases our resistance to the stresses and challenges of life. When we’re less overwhelmed, we’re also less likely to become depressed.

Check out Rick Coe’s yoga practice: Yoga Therapy for Depression.


 

Matt Peplinski

Matt Peplinski has experienced recovery from psychosis and has a regular daily yoga practice. a regular daily yoga practice. He loves science, especially science about the unknown and unexplained. That’s why he’s starting up a site about the evidence-based analysis of alternative medicine and parapsychology, called EmpiricSpirit. You can find out more about it at his website and other media pages.
Website: www.empiricspirit.com
Facebook: Empiricspirit
Twitter: @Empiricspirit
YouTube: EmpiricSpirit


 

THERE’S MORE TO YOU THAN YOU THINK

Travel down a new road with Gaia, a member-supported conscious media company. Join our community of seekers, dreamers, and doers to empower your own evolution. Discover over 8,000+ ad-free, streaming videos to inspire and encourage curiosity. Everything is waiting for you; which path will you choose?

What does a conscious company do with $11.99 a month?

Provides an ad-free experience, no exceptions!
Pays the bills without selling your personal information.
Produces, edits, and shares thought-provoking original shows and videos.
Brings scholars, scientists, and even shamans into the studios.
Makes Gaia accessible on your favorite devices.
Keeps our community active and supports its growth.
STEP 1 of 3
Choose your plan
Prices shown in USD
30% Savings Annually

Cost After First Payment

Cost After First Payment

Cancel Anytime

Cancel Anytime

Available on Laptop, Phone, Tablet, and TV

Available on Laptop, Phone, Tablet, and TV

Unlimited Ad-Free Streaming

Unlimited Ad-Free Streaming