Turning Depression On Its Head With Yoga

Depression and other mental health issues are serious and should be evaluated by a professional. For counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood, call Sunstone Health & Wellness today.

Today's post is the final in a 4-part series on yoga and depression.  This series has been brought to you by guest blogger, Jennifer Minchin.  Jen is a yogi, constant explorer, and lover of the written word.

Did you know there’s pretty much a yoga pose for any mood and every possible body ailment? In B.K.S. Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga you can look up everything from how to ease a headache to polio with yoga. Different yoga poses activate different muscles, organs, and gland systems within your body, with the goal of finding overall balance. So what about depression? Which yoga poses can help?

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Stand with your feet hips width’s distance apart. Make sure the feet are parallel to each other with your heels lined up directly behind the first and second toes. Bring your hands to your hips and fold forward, hinging at the waist. Once you’ve lowered down, lower your hands to the floor or a block if you can’t reach the floor. (If you don’t have a block available, you can use a chair, pillows, blankets, etc., whatever will help bring the floor to you.)

If you keep your weight centered between the front and back of your foot you will get a more even stretch. If you’d like to release your hamstrings a bit more then move your weight more towards the front of your feet.

Child’s Pose

If you don’t have a lot of flexibility in your knees, you may want to skip this one because it likely won’t be relaxing. However, if you can sit up on your shins with no problem, start there. Hinge forward, folding over your thighs. Let your head rest on the floor and stretch your arms out in front of you. Imagine all of the day’s worries just falling out of your forehead and into the floor. As you exhale sink further back into your hips and just let go.

Legs Up the Wall

This one is exactly what it sounds like and it’s easy to do! Find yourself a wall, lay flat on your back, and slowly work your legs flat up the wall. Eventually your legs will be at a 90-degree angle to your body. Stay here for a couple of minutes and just breathe.


If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, you can practice some inversions to bring freshly oxygenated blood back to your head. Oxygen and glucose are two things the brain needs to function properly, so bathing your head in this oxygen rich blood is a great way to kick start the “happy” chemical production you need. An inversion is a pose in which your head is below your heart. With inversions, you’re literally turning depression on its head!

So if you’re new to all of this, you can start with a forward fold, which technically is an inversion.

For those of you who may already have a yoga practice or are familiar with these poses, headstand, handstand, and shoulder stand are great for anxiety and depression. If you’re not familiar with how to get into these poses, you’ll want to find a local teacher who can walk you through them step-by-step and be there to safety guide you.

These are just a few of the many poses that are great to help counteract the effects of stress, anxiety and depression. If you’re interested, find a local studio where you can practice. Becoming part of a community is also another great way to start to work your way out of depression.

If you are so someone you know is depressed or looking for counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood areas, contact us to learn how we can help.


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