5 Ways Yoga May Help With Depression
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.
Feel Healthier and Younger! 5 Detoxifying Habits to Begin
- Dry Brush Your Beautiful Skin
Europeans have used [skin brushing](/video/ayurveda-action-plan-skin-brushing} as an effective method of detoxification for centuries. It’s a simple detox technique which removes toxins accumulated in dead skin cells while simultaneously enhancing circulation. If you brush your skin every day for three minutes, you will be giving it a cleanse that is better than a traditional soap cleaning or bath. In fact, there’s simply no soap that can wash the skin as clean as the new skin which lies beneath the old.
Dry skin brushing your whole body every morning before you shower will do your skin so much good – even if you can’t see it. Just trust in the process because it works! Make sure you use an all-natural dry skin brush, and brush from the feet and hands in the direction of the center of your body. Be sure to brush the bottoms of the feet because nerve endings in your feet affect the whole body. Use lighter strokes over breasts and avoid your nipples if you can. Wash your brush every few weeks in water and let it dry. Get blissed out in the sensation of newly invigorated skin!
- Sweat It Out!
Perspiration is so very, very good for you. It’s an absolutely essential ingredient for healthy skin. Sweating detoxifies and cleanses the skin. If you only sweat for twenty minutes every day, you’ll be doing your skin a world of good. The body detoxifies through the skin, the body’s largest organ of elimination, by sweating. In many traditional cultures around the world, sweating is the first thing people do when they feel a cold or flu coming on. How many times a week do you sweat? For some of us, depending upon our constitution, it’s much easier to sweat than others. But for all of us – no matter what dosha dominates – there are ways to sweat every single day.
For starters, there’s cardiovascular exercise and vinyasa or Bikram yoga classes. Then there are steam rooms and infrared saunas. You can also have some fun in the bedroom by revving up your sexual activity with your partner to get the body sweating and releasing toxins. Whatever you choose to do, try to sweat regularly to maintain optimal health and remove those unwanted toxins.
- Drink Chaga Tea
Chaga, the king of super foods, is a natural detoxifying agent. You can take it in a number of forms, such as powders, capsules, or tinctures. But sipping it in tea form is a great way to relax and drink it as a daily tonic, the way it’s been done for thousands of years by traditional cultures around the world. Chaga is naturally detoxifying because it is a super food that directly impacts the immune system – in a good, good way.
When we feed our bodies with this immune super food, it detoxifies itself naturally because fifty percent of the detox process is simply the immune system working to eliminate toxins. Chaga is also one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, second only to cacao. Antioxidants detoxify the body, too, by preventing our liver from being overtaxed with oxidative stress.
- Go To Bed and Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
Research has shown us over and over again that serious sleep deprivation has the same negative effects on the body as do illness and stress. Our body naturally goes to work for us when we sleep, and getting enough sleep is crucial to the body’s natural mechanisms of detoxification. For the brain in particular to detoxify, adequate sleep is absolutely essential.
There’s something referred to as the glymphatic system, which is simply defined as the brain’s system of removing toxins that can lead to such diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other brain maladies. It’s like the lymphatic system for your brain. When we get a good eight hours of sleep on average, the brain “takes out the trash.” Sleep is absolutely essential for removing toxic waste products.
- Twist It Out With Yoga
Yoga postures that twist and turn the body have a natural detoxifying effect. They get things movin’ and groovin’ inside, enhancing the digestive system, while giving the organs a nice, internal massage. When we get into twisting poses, our organs are compressed. This action actually moves blood that inevitably gets filled with toxins out of our system. Twists also flood the liver and kidneys with oxygen while getting blood flowing to those organs of elimination. Try to detox daily by sitting in seated spinal twist and breathing for six to ten breaths.
Other excellent yoga poses for detoxification include: chair twists, wide-legged forward fold with twist, cat/cow (not a twisting pose but still great for digestion), supine twists, twisted side angle pose, downward dog with a twist, crescent lunge twist, and marichiyasana.
In addition, all inversions are also excellent for detoxifying as they soothe the nervous system while stimulating circulation and lymph in the legs and feet, bringing oxygenated blood to the abdomen and brain. While you do your yoga postures, try breathing through the nose. This, too, has a detoxifying effect because many environmental pollutants get stopped in the mucous membranes of the nasal passages when we breathe through the nose. They then travel to the digestive system where they are broken down and eliminated from the body.
Good luck with your whole body demo habits! Your body will love you for bringing these new habits into your life.