Yes, Yoga Can Help With Anxiety and Depression—Here's Exactly How

Claire Fountain—celebrity yoga teacher, personal trainer, and wellness expert—founded #TrillYoga with her unorthodox approach to break stigmas and stereotypes in the yoga and wellness space. After getting into yoga for depression and anxiety, she has always been a mental health advocate beyond all her fitness endeavours. She also has an ebook series called Built and Bendy that promotes strength training and flexibility, mindfulness, and leading your health goals from a positive place.

Since May is Mental Health Month, it's both timely and important to note that the reason I got into yoga to begin with was because of depression and anxiety that had manifested into a pretty serious eating disorder. Once my health was stabilised, and even in the process, yoga and meditation became constants. I started yoga knowing it was good for me but not really knowing how or why. Over the next few years, I don’t know if yoga saved me or if yoga gave me the tools to save myself, but I started seeing all the ways the practice was helping me with my depression and anxiety.

I think many people know yoga is good for mental health issues but aren’t sure how or why or even where to start. One in three Americans struggles with mental health conditions, and women are more likely to suffer from these than men. Women are even 40% more likely to develop depression. Even if you or those you love are not affected by things such as depression and anxiety, there’s a chance you have encountered stress, worry, and some not-so-positive feelings.

How does yoga help then? Yoga is a mind-body exercise or series of poses that focus the attention inward. Some might call it a moving meditation that centres the thoughts and can create a sense of calm and wholeness. Yoga forces us to be present and control our breathing. Consciously working on our breathing can slow the heart rate, reduce stress, and quiet the mind. This type of breathing can be used anytime and anywhere you need to recenter or calm yourself. You might also gain a bit more clarity or even patience.

Below are some poses that can help with releasing stress and getting through anxiety and depression. Combine them into a flow if you’d like, making sure to repeat on the left and right sides. The most important part of yoga for anxiety or depression is to focus on the breathing and stay consistent. It’s not a one-practice or one-pose fix-all, but with continued practice, yoga can help ease depression and anxiety, and support mental health overall.

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