You're always in control of your breath.
- Anxiety is triggered environmentally and emotionally, but a physiological response quickly follows.
- Calming breathing techniques help to tamp down the physiological response of anxiety.
- The following four exercises are known to help calm anxiety and develop focus.
Stressed? Use This Breathing Technique to Improve Your Attention and Memory, with Emma Seppälä<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ac308f8ef7490814bcb4c1841725cf35"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NrJZu6bGyHg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Alternate Nostril Breathing</h3><p>Emma Seppälä, science director at Stanford Center For Compassion And Altruism Research And Education, says American culture values intensity yet undervalues calmness. We never shut off. While intensity has its place, every animal in nature inherently knows the necessity of rest in order to store up energy for when it's actually needed. Americans are careless with our energy reserves, which is why so many of us are chronically tired, overworked, and stressed out. </p><p>Seppälä knows that breathing changes our state of mind. She recommends a popular yogic breathing technique, <em>nadi shodhana</em>, also known as alternate nostril breathing. </p><p>Place the index and middle fingers of your right hand on your forehead. Use your thumb to close your right nostril while inhaling through the left nostril, then close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat this for at least two minutes, then sit quietly for another minute or two, breathing normally. </p><p>There are many variations of this technique. My favorite is a four-cycle breath: inhale for a count of four through one nostril, retain your breath for a count of four, exhale for four, hold your breath out for four. If you're new to this breathing technique, retention might initially create more anxiety than it relieves, so try the basic inhale-exhale pattern until you can last for at least five minutes before moving onto breath retentions.</p>
Mind Hack: Combat Anxiety with This Breathing Technique<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0cd55bb6ac6c7dd5daab3c29b7a82843"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7xalaT2FwS8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Power Breath</h3><p>Game designer and author of "Superbetter," Jane McGonigal, recommends the Power Breath: exhale for twice as long as you inhale. She says this will shift your nervous system from sympathetic to a parasympathetic tone—you'll calm down. Simply sit comfortably, close your eyes, and begin by inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for a count of eight. </p><p>This is also a popular yoga breathing technique. As with <em>nadi shodhana</em>, it can initially kick up rather than diminish anxiety. If you find long exhales challenging, begin by inhaling and exhaling at an even rate: a count of four in both directions. Then try to slowly increase your exhale to a count of five, six, and so on. Longtime practitioners can inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of 50. As with any muscle, you can train your breathing. The benefits are immense. </p>
Breathing Techniques to Help You Relax<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="56511aaa4d1c06cc65077b8daf7670fb"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHpTR2wRc8c?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Focus Word Breathing</h3><p>Lolly, a Mind-Body Specialist at the University of Maryland Heart Center, offers what she calls Focus Word Breathing. Traditionally, this is known as Mantra meditation. Choose a word that has meaning to you—<em>calm</em>, <em>grace</em>, <em>ease</em>—and repeat it during every inhalation and exhalation. As your mind wanders, the word becomes a sort of flagpole that you've mentally planted to bring you back to this moment. </p><p>As a former sufferer of anxiety disorder, I remember how important my thoughts were when having a panic attack. The power of the physiological symptoms increased when I dwelled on negative thoughts. This spiral felt like being sucked into a vortex. By contrast, when I was able to redirect my thinking, the symptoms lessened. </p><p>Mantra meditation never completely worked during an attack. By that point, my physiology had been hijacked. But as a regular practice, this breathing technique is powerful. Think of it as training for the big game of life. You teach yourself to focus on beneficial words. Your attention goes where thinking leads you, but you also have control of your thoughts. By integrating a mantra with breathing, you're priming your mind to focus at will.</p>
How to do Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall) w/ AnaMargret Sanchez<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6ebcd48808f1ef73d5d35b9b4f58e8e8"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YHxoiq1YivE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Deep Belly Breathing</h3><p>This exercise is commonly used by yoga instructors to bring their students into Corpse Pose (Savasana). Place your hands over your stomach while lying down and focus your attention there. Take deep, even breaths into your hands. As with the last technique, focus your mind there. Relax the muscles at your extremities: your toes, fingers, and forehead. Allow yourself to melt into the floor. </p><p>I love doing this breath while in <em>Viparita Karani</em>, otherwise known as Legs Up the Wall posture. The video above explains how to enter this pose; a blanket or pillow under your lower back makes the posture comfortable. Once there, I practice deep belly breathing. This technique always calms me down. I've recommended it to friends suffering from insomnia; they all responded with positive anecdotal feedback. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Reaching beyond the stereotypes of meditation and embracing the science of mindfulness.
- There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what mindfulness is and what meditation can do for those who practice it. In this video, professors, neuroscientists, psychologists, composers, authors, and a former Buddhist monk share their experiences, explain the science behind meditation, and discuss the benefits of learning to be in the moment.
- "Mindfulness allows us to shift our relationship to our experience," explains psychologist Daniel Goleman. The science shows that long-term meditators have higher levels of gamma waves in their brains even when they are not meditating. The effect of this altered response is yet unknown, though it shows that there are lasting cognitive effects.
- "I think we're looking at meditation as the next big public health revolution," says ABC News anchor Dan Harris. "Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no-brainers like exercise, brushing your teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you." Closing out the video is a guided meditation experience led by author Damien Echols that can be practiced anywhere and repeated as many times as you'd like.
A groundbreaking Stanford University study explains the areas of the brain that are impacted by hypnosis.
- Hypnosis refers to a trance state that is characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation, and heightened imagination.
- According to a Stanford University School of Medicine study, there are three areas of our brains that change during a state of hypnosis.
- This groundbreaking study provides information on how hypnosis impacts the brain, which could lead to new and improved pain management and anxiety treatments in the future.
Hypnosis: a brief history<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM4MDUzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODE0NTIxMn0.8i-niurp_iqtQtLAItVe4bYVzsCvP510dhMITGPs47E/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="ec42b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1af341304e578f5bf20858cb7e872c86" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="swinging pocket watch" />
Along the way, there have been many pioneers in the feild of hypnosis research.
Photo by Brian A Jackson on Shutterstock<p>The "modern father" of hypnosis was Austrian physician Franz Mesmer, who gave us the word "mesmerism", which can be another word referencing a hypnotic state. Mesmer had an idea for which he called "animal magnetism" - and the idea was that there are these kinds of natural energy sources that could be transferred between organisms and objects.</p><p>Along the way, hypnotism has had many other pioneers who have furthered the fascinating phenomenon. One of the most notable is James Braid, an eye doctor based in Scotland who became intrigued with the idea of hypnosis when he discovered a patient in his waiting room had fallen under something of a trance after staring at a lamp. He gave the patient come commands, and the patient obliged, remaining in a trace-like state the entire time. </p><p>Braid's fascination grew and through more tests, he determined that getting a patient to fixate on something was one of the most important components to hypnosis. He later would publish a book on what we now know as the <a href="https://books.google.be/books/about/The_Discovery_of_Hypnosis.html?id=Vs35STwQYQoC&redir_esc=y" target="_blank">discovery of modern hypnosis</a>.</p><p>Later, James Esdaile, a British surgeon based in India during the mid-1800s established that this kind of trance hypnotic state was extremely useful in pain relief practices. He performed hundreds of major operations using hypnotism as his only anesthetic. When he returned to England in an attempt to convince the medical establishments of his findings, they paid no mind to his theory in favor of new chemical anesthetics such as morphine, which was <a href="https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/painkillers/a-short-history.html" target="_blank">relatively new at the time</a>. This is where the use of hypnotics for medicinal purposes halted and much of the reason why hypnosis is considered an alternative approach to medicine in today's society.</p><p>Jumping forward to the 1900s, Frenchman Emile Coué moved away from the conventional approaches that had been pioneered with hypnotism and began his work with the use of auto-suggestion. </p><p>He is most famous for the phrase: <em>"Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better." </em>This technique was one of the first instances where affirmation hypnosis was used and it has been growing through various counseling programs and therapy techniques ever since.</p><p>In modern times, one of the most recognized authorities on clinical hypnosis remains to be Milton Erikson, a well-known psychotherapist who did most of his work around 1950-1980. He was fascinated with human psychology and devised countless innovative ways to use hypnosis in his clinical practices. </p>
Scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during a guided hypnosis session.
Image by vrx on Shutterstock<p><strong>Changes found in three areas of the brain during hypnosis may suggest future alternative treatments for anxiety and pain management.</strong><br><br>Over the years, hypnosis has gained a lot of traction and respectability within both the medical and psychotherapy professions. According to a 2016 Stanford University School of Medicine study, there are three areas of our brains that change during a state of hypnosis - and this could actually be used to benefit us.</p><p>Scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during a guided hypnosis session, similar to one that may be used to help treat anxiety, pain, or trauma. </p><p><strong>First, there is a decrease in dorsal anterior cingulate activity. </strong></p><p>This is part of the brain's salience network that is responsible for <a href="https://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.php?term=Anterior+Cingulate+Cortex" target="_blank">psychological functions</a> like decision making, evaluation processes, and emotional regulation as well as physiological functions such as blood pressure and heart rate. </p><p><strong>Next, there is an increase in the connection between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. </strong></p><p>The <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/dorsolateral-prefrontal-cortex" target="_blank">dorsolateral prefrontal cortex</a> is associated with executive functions such as working memory and self-control. The <a href="https://www.spinalcord.com/insular-cortex" target="_blank">insula</a> is a small region of the cerebral cortex that plays a significant role in pain perception, social engagements, emotions, and autonomic control. </p><p>This is described by the lead researcher of the study as a kind of "brain-body connection" that helps the brain process and control what's going on in the body. </p><p><strong>Finally, there are reduced connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex. </strong></p><p>The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex becomes less connected to the medial prefrontal cortex and the <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/1/215" target="_blank">posterior cingulate cortex</a>, both of which are strongly associated with neural activity and cognitive tasks.</p><p>This decrease very likely correlates to the disconnect between someone's actions and their awareness of their actions, according to the lead researcher on the project. </p><p><strong>How does this change the way we view hypnosis?</strong></p><p>Understanding exactly which areas of the brain are impacted during hypnosis can pave the way for groundbreaking research into the use of hypnosis for medicinal purposes.</p><p>"Now that we know which brain regions are involved," says David Spiegel, MD, professor and researcher on the project, "we may be able to use this knowledge to alter someone's capacity to be hypnotized or the effectiveness of the hypnosis for problems such as pain control." </p><p>While more research is needed, the study is certainly a groundbreaking head-start in what could eventually be known as hypnotic treatments for things like anxiety, trauma and pain management. </p><p>"A treatment that combines brain stimulation with hypnosis could improve known analgesic effects of hypnosis and potentially even replace addictive and side-effect-laden painkillers and anti-anxiety medications," explains Spiegel. </p>
Ever want to move forward but find you're in your own way?
- Many of us are held back by the idea of ourselves that our egos have built and will do anything to maintain.
- Oftentimes this manifests as a fear of failure, an inability to start on new projects, or the evasion of responsibility.
- Here we have five suggestions on how to keep your ego in check.
Ryan Holiday: Ego is the Enemy<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="qQbtxR7m" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="da58a58596485e7999d4d394da1cb742"> <div id="botr_qQbtxR7m_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/qQbtxR7m-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/qQbtxR7m-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/qQbtxR7m-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p><a href="https://bigthink.com/u/ryan-holiday" target="_self">Ryan Holiday</a> is a marketing executive, writer, and speaker with important insights into how ego can trip you up.</p><p>In his book, "Ego is the Enemy<em>,"</em> Holiday<em> </em>discusses the dangers of getting too caught up in the stories we tell ourselves about how fantastic we are and the adverse side effects of this. Using his own life for an example, he describes how he realized that he was so dedicated to his work that if he didn't slow down, he was going to work himself into an early grave. This was a result of buying into the story he had been telling himself about himself. He also watched more than a few people fall apart because they didn't have the same realization. </p><p>His book offers a variety of ideas on how to deal with this problem from sources as diverse as stoic philosophy and the advice of UFC fighters. His most practical suggestion might be the "equal, plus, minus" <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9xpKY7eWfU" target="_blank">concept</a>.</p><p>In this system, a person should have a friend who is their equal, better, and lessor in their field. When you're working on starting a project, turn to your equals to stay motivated and to remind you that you're all in the same boat. When coming off a success, turn to your better, who could be an accomplished mentor, to keep your ego from growing too much. Lastly, when you've failed, have somebody who you're a mentor to around to explain the failing; that'll help you realize that failure is just part of the process.</p><p>These three kinds of people can help you keep your ego in check and help you get over the pitfalls that prevent you from starting your projects, admitting failure, or moving forward after a win.</p>
Buddhist Thought and "Non-Self"<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="4KYp5mvc" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="78aebf46092ec62d0faa179b0394191d"> <div id="botr_4KYp5mvc_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/4KYp5mvc-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/4KYp5mvc-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/4KYp5mvc-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The Buddhist notion of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta" target="_blank">Anatta</a> means "non-self" and refers to the idea that there is no permanent, unchanging substance that we can call the "self." We tend to point at a variety of things, namely our form, thoughts, sensory experience, perceptions, and consciousness, and say that one or more of these things as they currently exist is the "self." Buddhism is here to tell you that they aren't.</p><p>As with everything else, Buddhism suggests that suffering arises when we try to hold on to impermanent things. In this case, your idea of an enduring "self." By understanding the true nature of the self, that there isn't something enduring there at all, we can come to realize that many of the things that our ego tells us are fundamental parts of ourselves, how we look, think, act, see the world, or feel about things this moment aren't actually "us." </p><p>By getting that idea out of our heads, we can allow ourselves to make the changes, take risks, and accept the things that ego usually wouldn't allow us to. Many a Buddhist monk would also suggest that it would enable you to move down the path towards enlightenment.</p>
Mindfulness Meditation<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="VGZSWkFa" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="ac625b307d0c949ca945222a6df6a13a"> <div id="botr_VGZSWkFa_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/VGZSWkFa-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/VGZSWkFa-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/VGZSWkFa-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Meditation's endless benefits are, and have been, promoted by a variety of religions and ideologies in a myriad of forms. We're going to focus on mindfulness meditation here, but know that other kinds of meditation can claim these benefits.</p><p>Mindfulness meditation takes a few pages from Buddhism's playbook but goes in a separate direction. The goal is to bring one's attention to the present moment while sitting. This is often done by counting the breath or focusing attention on a particular area on the body. Done correctly, it allows one to enter into a state of "nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is," as described by psychologist <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1093/clipsy.bph077" target="_blank">Dr. Scott Bishop</a>. </p><p>By helping us to turn off that part of our brain that worries about the past, future, and the endless list of threats to our sense of self, mindfulness meditation trains us to focus on what is rather than what our ego often tells us is. By doing so, we gain the ability to get past our ego defenses. This notion is supported by studies that demonstrate that people who practice mindfulness have a healthier and more coherent sense of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4310269/" target="_blank">self</a>. </p>
Drugs!<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="83HrLnMe" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="e834635ec27ede810bf69997f37bed8d"> <div id="botr_83HrLnMe_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/83HrLnMe-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/83HrLnMe-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/83HrLnMe-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Before we begin, please remember that you shouldn't go running to the neighborhood dealer just because some website mentioned how drugs can do something interesting.</p><p>Ever since Timothy Leary and company got their hands on the Tibetan Book of the Dead in the 1960s, the goal of achieving Ego Death has been a commonly discussed topic in psychedelic literature. The idea is to use drugs to alter your consciousness to a point where your mind no longer differentiates itself from the rest of the world around it. </p><p>Psychonauts describe this effect as quite dramatic and unlike typical consciousness experiences. One I spoke to described it as an intense rocket launch into the serine void of space. Another described it as a blowing out of a candle with perfect stillness afterward. The condition allows for the individual to view their mental processes, including ego defenses and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, from a detached state. </p><p>As recorded by several <a href="https://www.sunypress.edu/p-2684-the-ecstatic-imagination.aspx" target="_blank">researchers</a>, the experience can be cathartic and lead to great personal insights under the right conditions. As Sam Harris mentions in his video, drugs do have the benefit of always producing an effect, and the experience can lead to legitimate insights. Those who research psychedelic drugs believe that this effect is caused by the drugs' creation of new connections between parts of the brain that don't regularly interact with one another.</p><p>It is also worth noting that John Lennon blamed the intensification of his personal problems and a bout of depression on trying to follow Leary's instructions. Writer Hunter S. Thompson, who had more acid in him than a car battery, thought that Leary was peddling nonsense. </p>
Tim Ferriss' list of fears<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="OyjFAvAa" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="de6558efc7e7adbc2ad39a2a288f9c5b"> <div id="botr_OyjFAvAa_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/OyjFAvAa-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/OyjFAvAa-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/OyjFAvAa-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>An investor and author with some ideas related to stoic philosophy, Mr. Ferriss has some suggestions for overcoming fear that can easily be applied to getting your ego out of your way.</p><p>Fear setting requires that you take a piece of paper with three columns and write what risk you want to take at the top. In the first column, you write very specific bad things that could happen if you take the risk. In the next column, you write ways to minimize those risks. In the last, you write ways to rebound from each listed risk. <br> <br> This system can be applied to notions of ourselves just as easily as it can be applied to our fear of going broke. If you don't start painting because you are afraid of what the critics will say, list it on this chart. Concerned that people will laugh at you if you change your style? Include it. Even just using it as intended can be enough to battle your ego. How many times have you been afraid of being seen as a failure so much that you don't try something? </p><p>Now, ask yourself what your ego defenses are protecting and see if you can get around those walls. </p>
According to the analysis, the more yoga sessions a person did each week, the less they struggled with depressive symptoms.
- Depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting over 340 million people.
- According to a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, yoga sessions may be able to ease depressive symptoms in people with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
- Mindfulness, meditation, and breathing control techniques are all things that have been proven effective in reducing depressive symptoms. Traditional yoga practices typically include a combination of these things and therefore may actually have more of a positive impact.
Yoga can be used as a form of exercise and self-help<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMwOTQwMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MDg5MTU4OX0.N1dyH7Y9xMPDdX9Ck4tCC92GvQaqMwTCZ6qHnXeKjzw/img.jpg?width=980" id="47146" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4a2f331ab10df4a53b2ef9863d3f13e5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="woman doing yoga self help depression disability" />
Depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Photo by fizkes on Shutterstock<p>Globally, mental disorders such as the ones highlighted throughout this article <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215036615005052" target="_blank">are responsible for up to 32%</a> of disability-adjusted life years (which is described as a year of 'healthy' life lost). Depressive disorders are <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Greden/publication/11750034_The_Burden_of_Recurrent_Depression_Causes_Consequences_and_Future_Prospects/links/5a8c29e20f7e9b1a95575e5f/The-Burden-of-Recurrent-Depression-Causes-Consequences-and-Future-Prospects.pdf" target="_blank">the leading cause</a> of disability worldwide, affecting over 340 million people. </p><p>With COVID-19 lockdowns preventing people from accessing their regular workout routines, many are beginning to look for alternatives - and this is where yoga can help, according to new research. While typical treatments are still effective for those who are able to experience them, there may be another way to combat symptoms of depression. </p><p>According to a new <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2020/04/05/bjsports-2019-101242" target="_blank">study</a> in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, yoga sessions may be able to ease depressive symptoms in people with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.</p><p><em> </em>To assess whether physically engaging yoga practices were able to alleviate depressive symptoms in people with a diagnosed mental disorder, 19 studies were included in a large-scale systematic review, and 13 additional studies were included in a meta-analysis review for this experiment.</p>Jacinta Brinsley, a doctoral candidate at the University of South Australia (and lead on the study) explains:<em> "Exercise has always been a great strategy for people struggling with these feelings, as it boosts both mood and health." </em>
How can yoga ease depression symptoms?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMwOTM5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODM2OTkzMn0.Mcm8Vtzcp7yNrCfWGgYBShqCp1LtU03XjBARaSNdVrI/img.jpg?width=980" id="6eb0e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="420938b6a75f7a69b20a0b4c5484ba10" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="group yoga in yoga classroom men and women doing yoga" />
Study shows the more yoga you do, the less depressive symptoms you may feel.
Photo by Rawpixel.com on Shutterstock<p>Within the 1712 individuals across these 32 studies, disorders of depression, post-traumatic stress, schizophrenia, anxiety, alcohol dependence, and bipolar were present.</p><p>Participants did 1-2 yoga sessions per week which varied between 20 to 90 minutes long. According to Brinsley,<em> "This is any kind of yoga where 'asana' (the postures and movements) are at the main focus." </em>Brinsley also explained that most yoga classes found online or in gyms or studios in Western society would fit these criteria. </p><p>These yoga sessions were completed weekly for about 2.5 months across all studies reviewed in this project. The results found through Brinsley's team analysis were that yoga moderately eased depressive symptoms compared with other self-help treatments (or lack of treatment) across the mental health spectrum. </p><p>The analysis proves that some conditions seemed to benefit more than others, with the highest success being among individuals who were diagnosed with depressive disorders. Yoga was less effective for those with schizophrenia and those struggling with alcohol use disorders. There was no positive impact listed for those who struggled with depression that stemmed from PTSD. </p><p>According to the analysis, the more yoga sessions a person did each week, the less they struggled with depressive symptoms and the better they felt.</p><p><strong>Different mechanisms work for us to improve our physical and mental health as we exercise.</strong></p><p>Exercise has been widely known for its physical and mental health benefits, with increasing blood circulation to the brain (especially to areas like the amygdala and hippocampus), which both play roles in controlling our motivation, moods, and responses. </p><p>One of the mechanisms that work for us, bettering our physical and mental health when we exercise is the release of endorphins. Another important mechanism that helps is the body's central stress response system (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), along with the ability for yoga (or other kinds of exercise) to improve sleep quality. </p><p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20350028/?dopt=Abstract" target="_blank">Mindfulness</a>, meditation, and breathing control techniques are all things that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25881019/?dopt=Abstract" target="_blank">have been proven</a> effective in reducing depressive symptoms. Traditional yoga practices typically include a combination of these things and therefore may actually have more of a positive impact beyond mindfulness, breathing exercises, or exercise used individually.</p><p><strong>Connecting the body to the mind through yoga practices.</strong></p><p>One of the most helpful things when dealing with mental health conditions is awareness and proactivity. Understanding the problem and working to find a solution. Yoga practices often teach that the body, mind, and spirit are all connected. When you do work in one area, it impacts your whole system.</p><p>Laurie Hyland Robertson, who co-authored the book "<em>Understanding Yoga Therapy</em>", explains:<em> "We can expect that leg exercises, especially when you approach it in a mindful and purposeful way, can not only affect your quadriceps, but also your emotional state, your body's physiology, and even your mental outlook." </em></p><p><strong>Yoga can be treated as any treatment plan - individualized for each patient. </strong></p><p>Robertson also explains that yoga is an extremely unique treatment plan that offers something for everyone, as <em>"the results of this analysis underscore the importance of working with a professional who can tailor yoga practices to the individual, adapting the care plan as needed." </em></p>