by Emily Lopes
Depression knocks you down and keeps you down every time you try to get back up. No matter how hard you try to climb back out of this pit of sadness, it seems impossible. It can be easy to fall into this spiral, especially from burning out from your career, late night sessions with the kids, or even just suffering the mundane drudgeries of life. If there were only some amazing ways to uplift your spirits and undo this curse! I know! You should look into yoga or meditation, and kudos if you are willing to combine both.
Stretching into Yoga
Yoga is about movements that are gentle, calming, and flowing which strengthens the mind-body connection. The mindful nature of yoga gives it a meditative element and the movements help to lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure.
Yoga helps bring your mind to the present moment with deep breathing exercises and appreciating your body with every concentrated movement.
Did you know that yoga also increases serotonin levels in your body? Depressed folk tend to have low levels of this feel-good chemical. The yoga poses also help stretch out your body and relieve pain and blockages, which helps your mind relax too! You feel good all-around, so what’s not to love?
You can practice without a gym membership and it’s as easy as turning on a yoga video on YouTube in the privacy of your own home! You might be self-conscious of your body but you can always work towards going to a yoga class once you improve, to get better instruction. Getting out there and seeing people, getting sunlight, and talking to others helps banish away that depression!
There are many types of yoga but the generally recommended one is Hatha. The movements are gentler and slower paced, best for someone just starting out. There are many other types out there including Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga, Hot, Iyengar, Kundalini, Restorative, and Yin. For our purposes of dealing with depression, the best path is going to be starting with the easiest so you can awaken that wonderful mind and extend your body and spirit to start moving again.
Relaxing into Meditation
Meditation has been a renowned exercise for ages to help uplift the mind beyond its present capacity. Mediation helps calm that monkey mind by not letting it take the reins of thoughts. Meditation is so great because it helps us take deep breaths which brings more oxygen to the brain.
Generally, depressed people have very shallow breathing and have forgotten how to take in a lot of wonderful, spirit-filled oxygen to nurture the mind and body.
The mindfulness that comes from meditation can help generate positive emotions, gratitude, self-compassion, and self-confidence. Learning to watch our emotions and not letting them define us is the key to helping with depression. Essentially, our thoughts are not us.
If you fill your mind with beautiful thoughts, you can influence your whole inner and eventually outer universe. The stars are the limit, my mindful friend. The question you are probably having is “why aren’t more people doing it”, right?
Much like yoga, meditation can be practiced anywhere at anytime as long as you have a brain and can breathe. You do have a brain right? Hehe, I saw that smile you just had there. You can also get started with meditation very easily. If you need guidance, try a phone app or a YouTube video for basic guidance. If you prefer to just get started, find a nice comfy seat, sit with your back straight, breathe deeply and completely, and count your breaths. That’s it! Even taking as little as 5 minutes during the day will help but we should strive for consistency rather than intensity of sessions.
There are many types of meditations out there for relaxation, enlightenment, martial arts, raising energy, and becoming like the Dutch Iceman. Yes, feel free to look him up. The best type of meditation is the one that keeps going and keeps you practicing daily. Sometimes, getting all fancy with visualizations, incenses, mantras, biurnals beats, body positions, or anything else might detract from our simple purpose. KISS (Keep it simple, silly) and just have fun!
Where to next?
So you have been experimenting with some yoga and meditation, hopefully together, and found what a huge change it has made in your life and depression. Now you want to go beyond and share your spirit with the world. Head to a local Meetup, gym class, or find friends to practice with. There are many others out there wherever you might be in the world. Happiness is something that is more real when shared with others.
Maybe you want to advance your practices even more. You might have heard of retreat venues where you can practice to your heart’s content with yoga and meditation with other like-minded souls like yourself. There’s nothing quite like a collective gathering of energy to help enrich the local space! Good luck, breathe deeply, and share happiness with all kindred beings.
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