Yes, there are; yoga has wonderful breathing exercises for depression, as well as other tool to give you relief and ignite a spark of life in your eyes.
OK, without much preface, let’s get to the exercises.
Focus on your breathing
When you start doing pranayama as the yoga breathing techniques are called, the first step is to learn how to feel your breath. Why it is important? Because thus you will be able to control the flow of the energy in your body along with your air, which has a direct influence on your mind. The way we breathe affects our emotions and vice versa. For example, when you are peaceful, you breathe slowly and deeply; when anger comes to you, your breathing becomes furious and rapid; when you afraid, you breathe fast and shallow, etc. In the same way you can influence the state of your mind and senses by adjusting your breathing. Probably the desired effect won’t come immediately, but with some practice you will be able to fix your mood when needed by the help of pranayama.
1. Slow breathing with attention
Sit in a comfortable place or take a convenient pose; exhale, and start inhaling slowly, filling your belly with air in the beginning, then going to the middle chest, and then to the upper chest. Once you are full, exhale, emptying the lungs in the same or the reverse way. Do this 5-10 times.
- Give your full attention to the breathing process; feel the incoming and the out coming air, how your lungs are expanding and contracting.
- Do not overwork during the exercise, or you may have dizziness or a headache.
If it is difficult for you to feel the breathing, you can place your hands over the stomach or chest, and focus on their expansion and contraction as you breathe. This will help to make the breathing slower and deeper, as well as give more peace to your mind.
It’s interesting that according to the research of the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, the slow and controlled breathing can help reduce the feelings of pain, including chronic pain (Fibromyalgia for example), and a ‘subtle’ pain caused by depression and sadness.
You can read more about this research here.
2. Breathing in the Corpse pose
Another simple exercise you can do in Shavasana (the Corpse pose):
a) Inhale through the nose, then tighten you knee, calves, ankles and feet muscles. Hold it for few seconds, and then release the tension as you exhale.
b) Inhale, strain all the parts mentioned in a), and also your thighs, pelvis and abdomen. Hold them, and then relax on exhale.
c) Inhale, straining the neck, shoulder, arms and chest muscles in addition to the mentioned before. After a while release the tension and exhale.
d) Now you need to start with the head; inhale, tensing the head muscles, facial muscles (important!), adding to them straining all the other parts of your body. Hold the tension, then relax while exhaling.
e) Lie on the back, breathing freely, and relax.
This simple exercise is a good tool to release external and internal tension.
According to the authoritative source, yogic breathing helps to balance the autonomic nervous system, making a positive impact on the mind and stress-related disorders, although the mechanisms of this influence have not been fully studied yet. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the method offered by yoga has faults or side effects; no, it’s quite safe and has been tested through ages to be fully working.
Yoga as an integral system, offers many tools to become a happier person free from illness and depression. The only thing you need to do is to take a step on the path of yoga. And you can start with yoga breathing exercises for depression today.