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OVERCOME DEPRESSION WITH YOGA

Millions of people suffer from depression across the world. Depression is a mood disorder. The low mood involves feelings of intense sadness, including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless. There is a loss of interest in day to day activities that persists for days, weeks or even months and is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Temporary emotional responses to the challenges of everyday life do not constitute depression.

The causes of depression are not fully understood but are likely to be a complex combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Depression is associated with physical illness as well. Depression can mimic medical illness and any illness feels worse to someone suffering from depression.

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and an active social life with the support of family and friends is encouraged. Research has shown that yoga is one of the best ways to deal with depression. Practising yoga regularly under the right guidance along with proper treatment can help eliminate depression.

Dynamic yoga postures and breathing practices are recommended. They must be practised under able guidance. A simple technique which can be practised by all is described below.

ABDOMINAL BREATHING

Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is practised by enhancing the action of the diaphragm and minimising the action of the rib cage. The diaphragm is a domed sheet of muscle that separates the lungs from the abdominal cavity and, when functioning correctly, promotes the most efficient type of breathing. During inhalation the diaphragm moves downward, pushing the abdomen outward. During exhalation the diaphragm moves upward and the abdomen moves inward. Movement of the diaphragm signifies that the lower lobes of the lungs are being utilised. The proper use of the diaphragm causes equal expansion of the alveolar, improves lymphatic drainage from basal parts of the lungs, massages the liver, stomach, intestines and other organs that lie immediately beneath it, exerts a positive effect on the cardiac functions and coronary supply, and improves oxygenation of the blood and circulation.

Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. Due to tension, poor posture, restrictive clothing and lack of training, however, it is often forgotten. Once this technique again becomes a part of daily life and correct breathing is restored, there will be significant improvement in the state of physical and mental well being.

1.     Lie in Shavasana (corpse pose) and relax the whole body. Observe the spontaneous breath without interference for some time. Place the right hand on the abdomen just above the navel and the left hand over the centre of the chest.

2.     The right hand will move up with inhalation and down with exhalation. The left hand should not move with the breath. There should be no tension in the abdomen. Do not try to force the movement in any way. Do not expand the chest or move the shoulders. Feel the abdomen expanding and contracting. Continue breathing slowly and deeply.

3.     Inhale while expanding the abdomen as much as possible, without expanding the rib cage. At the end of the exhalation the abdomen will be contracted and the navel compressed towards the spine. Continue for 15-20 minutes.

This is an excellent practice for everybody. Correct breathing can rid the body of stress, tension and disease.