Community on Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda and Spirituality
In the following essay you can get a overview about the posi ve e ects of yoga on the management of nega ve thoughts or emouons. There is the possibility to manage the problem of excessive self destroying moments be er and to stabilise the thoughts to keep focused on the good sites of life. In our society the unhealthy management of our nega ve emouons is a certain problem. Approximately 10% of the popula on in Europe has depression once in life me. For the a ected person this disorder signifies a everyday fight against the overwhelming nega ve thoughts. Therefore a good management of nega vity or aggression in the early states of depressive moods is essenal. Especially if you have struggle with unstable emouons and a tendency for overwhelming nega ve thoughts yoga can help you. The philosophy of yoga, firstly wrien down by Patanjali in the yoga sutras around 500 BC, describes the way to unify you, the Individual soul, with the universal soul. Or if you don’t have a idea from the soul, the unity of you and the whole nature. Yoga and the instrucons of this way, the 8 limbs, has the goal to harmonise the body, mind an emouons. Therefore it is essenal to know that yoga can’t be a cure for life, but it does present a proven method to coping with it. The way of the 8 limbs includes firstly Yama, generalised rules for the nonviolent behaviour in the society; second Niyam, the non harmful behaviour to ourself; third asana and 4th pranayama, the preparaon of body and breath to harmonise body, mind and emouons; 5th pratayahara, the dissocia on of consciousness from the outside environment; 6th dharana, the ability to concentrate; 7th dhyana, medita on and con}nuously concentra on of the mind; and 8th samadhi, the final iden fica on with pure consciousness.
The first to steps, Yama and Niyama can help you to overthink your behaviour in the society and can func on like a cogniPve behavioural therapy for self prac se. But it’s a long way to follow this instrucons in the everyday life and for people with depressive mood this can be to overstraining for the beginning. Otherwise it can be healing to follow this rules to find truthfulness, nonviolence and gratefulness in the society or rather self discipline, self care and awareness in yourself.
But the physical preparaon with asanas and pranayama, the 4th and 5th stage of the 8 limbs, would be a good and beneficial ge ng in for people with depressive moods and unstable emouons as well. The following asanas and pranayama techniques can help you to get focused, stay in contact with your body and get a be er body sensavon, which is really important for healing. Because without any body sensivvity you can’t get out of unhealthy situaons for you. To learn that every emouon once a me leaves is a really important teaching during yoga prac se. „Hang in there! It will be be er, you can manage the situaon (or asana) by yourself!“ is the message. Also the increase of the ac vity of your nervous system and digesPve system is another anatomical benefit of yoga prac se, to managing the apathy and the low energy level during a depressive episode.
For every asana prac se you have to prepare your body and have a warm up, especially people with injuries have to consult a doctor before prac cing.
The first asana I want to recommend you is eka padsana or one foot pose. Stand relaxed, with feet together. Raise the arms directly above your head and interlock the fingers in yoni Mudra (interlocking middle, Ring and li le fingers without turning them inside, thumbs crossed in front of the outstretched index fingers) and inhale in this me. Bend forward slowly from the hips, keeping your body in a straight line, transferring the weight on the right leg and raise the le leg straight back, keeping it in line with the trunk.. Exhale while banding to assume the final posi on. Focus the gaze on the p of the index fingers and hold the posi on for long as is comfortable (don’t require you too much, be gentle to yourself. It takes me to prac se the asana for longer me) and breathe normally. Then slowly release the hands and lower your arms during exhale and return to the star ng posi on. Repeat the movement with the le leg back. During the physical awareness on the alignment of limbs and spine you have to focus and your concentra on will be increased and your get balanced. For me that posi on works perfectly in the morning to get energised and focused on the things I have to do. It prevent nega ve thought circles.
The second asana I can recommend you for the ac vaon in morning me is the chakrasana or wheel pose. Lie on the back with the knees bent and the heels touching bu ocks. Place the palms on the floor beside the head with the fingers poin ng towards the shoulders. A er inhale retain your breath and slowly raise the body and arch the back, straighten the arms and legs as much as possible. Let the head hang between the arms and breath normally in the final posture. Hold for long as comfortable. Your chest and abdomen will be stretched and the oxygen flow will be increased. The digesPve system will be increased and the nervous system as well. Also your Heart chakra will be opened and anxiety, aggression or fear will be cured for the moment. Exhale while lowering the body and take a rest. This asana will le you relaxed and with a warm feeling.
The third asana I want to recommend is the plough pose or halasana. If you did the chakrasana before, this posture is a good counter pose to balance your body. Lie flat on the back with legs and feet together, place the arms beside the body with palms facing down. A er deep inhale retain the breath and raise both legs in a ver cal posi on, keeping them straight and together. Li the bu ocks, rolling the back away from floor. Lowe the legs straight over the head and support the back with your hands. Relax and breath slowly and deeply in this posi on for long as comfortable. Than release with retained breath each vertebrae of the spine to the floor. This posture regulates the thyroid func on and can help to balance the metabolic rate, wich is o}en to low by pa ents with depression. Also your nervous system will be quieted and aggression can be fixed.
In a moment of apathy and lost ac vity you can prac se bhastrika pranayama to increase the energy in your body and to get new courage for the e orts of the daily life. Sit in crossed leg or thunderbird pose, hands on the knees in either chin or jnana Mudra. Inhale forcefully
in the belly, and expand the abdominal muscles at this me. Than exhale with the same force and period and contract your belly muscles. Con}nue in this manner 10 breaths than take one deep breath in and out. Prac se these rounds up to 5 mes and then rest in shavasana for a short me. But only if you feel comfortable with you and your thoughts, otherwise finish your prac se with one or two deep normal breathings.
Summarising yoga can be a good support in the management of depression or depressive moods. If you prac se the right asanas and pranayama techniques during a long period of me you can get be er feeling for your body, your thoughts and needs in or before dark moments. Feel free to join a yoga class where you can ask your ques ons and where you will meet warm hear ng people. Become more self confident with your body and yourself in general, have the belief in yourself that you can manage this darkness. Yoga can’t be the healing but a great guide in the direcon to ge ng healthy and more ok with the world.
Susanne Schmidt works as a mental health coach and psychologist in Bremen, Germany. She graduated from Gyan Yog Breath Yoga Teacher Training in 2017. She completed a Yoga Teacher Training that covers 200 Hours with Yoga Alliance. In Bremen, Susanne teaches Hatha and Vinyasa Flow. Her passion for yoga grows steadily. She is planning on completing another Yoga Teacher Training at Gyan Yog Breath to become designated as RYT-500.