Yoga: The Formula for Preventing Depression - Yoga Practice Blog

Yoga: The Formula for Preventing Depression

preventing depressionBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Can Yoga be a cure for anything?  Can Yoga help in preventing depression? To be clear, Yoga is a good adjunct therapy for preventing depression, but is not a cure. Let’s look at some solutions for avoiding depression and see how Yoga can be helpful.



Coping and Reality

While it is true that depression is not always preventable, many cases, when using the following ideas, will keep you in good spirits – most of the time. Unfortunately, we cannot be happy all of the time, but there is something we can do about it.

Working with various clients over the years, I have seen how Yoga training and physical exercise changed them and continue to change them for the better.  It is well-known that endorphins are produced from various exercise routines, including gentle Restorative Yoga or vigorous Vinyasa Yoga.

About Endorphins

Endorphins reduce stress and enhance good moods.  Just that information alone is enough to start practicing Yoga. Still, weight control, muscle tone, circulation, flexibility, and various other health benefits should be an incentive to enter a gentle Yoga class.

If you have been inactive, I suggest a beginner class with a mild-mannered Yoga teacher. Without pushing this any further, let’s look at other options to start and things to avoid. Remember that your strategy for coping is different from preventing depression, and you should consult a professional.


Ideas to Lift Your Spirits

Participate in social activities, support groups, senior centers, or local church activities. The activities could also be in your local mosque, temple, or shrine. There is always an activity that you can find around any religious center.

If you are not sure where to start, religious centers always have something positive going on all year.  You could also join a league for golf, tennis, fishing, bowling, bocce, or any other activity where people gather to share a few laughs. Take competition in stride, and don’t take anything too seriously.


Social Groups

Many social groups also function as support groups. The collective activity is suitable for all involved. Stay away from alcohol-drinking clubs.  This is not just bars or nightclubs, but local clubs that organize for the common good and then routinely get together to drink.

There is a conflict here in that alcohol is a depressant, and if you are prone to depression, this is not a good combination. On top of that, plenty of health problems accompany alcohol abuse.


About Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is not a solution to depression, and you won’t find a purpose in life through it. So, let’s keep it simple and avoid drinking alcohol – altogether.

If your friends and family abuse alcohol, they need counseling, and you will have to look outside your usual circles to get guidance. It would help if you surrounded yourself with positive and energetic people.


Outside Activity

Also, don’t hang around your house too much, especially in dark or unlit areas. Get outside, take a walk, go shopping, get a little sunlight, and open the curtains during daylight hours if you are in the house all day. If you have a sunroom to relax in – that is good, too. Lack of sunlight can cause elevated melatonin levels, sometimes called the sleep hormone.



Here’s an old-fashioned idea: Visit the self-improvement section of your local bookstore.  It is a hidden treasure within itself. This is a great reason to leave the house.  Audiobooks are also suitable for traveling in your car or listening to in your sunroom. Pick out books that captivate your imagination. If your local bookstore has valuable products, you may also want to pick up some relaxing music for your ride home.


There are many types of depression, and some are life-threatening.  Most people are familiar with postpartum depression, but that is just one type of depression. Sometimes, counseling is your best option for coping with or preventing depression.  Many people have different feelings or objections regarding counseling, but if one deals with major or clinical depression, the best decision is to seek professional or medical counseling immediately.


Advice for Teachers

Even though prenatal and postnatal courses may cover postpartum depression, no Yoga teacher training course allows instructors to advise a student with clinical depression professionally.  For some of us, coping with and preventing depression can be a life-long struggle. Unless you are a psychiatrist, psychologist, or medical doctor, you should point students in the safest direction toward professional counseling.  There is no time to waste if a person is in a high-risk category.

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Regina P. Lederman, Karen L. Weis, Regina P. Lederman, Karen L. Weis, Methods of Assessment: Psychosocial Adaptation to Pregnancy Questionnaire Scales and Interview Schedules, and Interventions to Enhance Adaptation, Psychosocial Adaptation to Pregnancy, 10.1007/978-3-030-45738-9, (297-348), (2020).

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Masayo Matsuzaki, Momoko Kusaka, Takashi Sugimoto, Mie Shiraishi, Risa Kobayashi, Sachi Watanabe, Megumi Haruna, The Effects of a Yoga Exercise and Nutritional Guidance Program on Pregnancy Outcomes Among Healthy Pregnant Japanese Women: A Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 10.1089/acm.2017.0119, 24, 6, (603-610), (2018).

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