Join Martyn, an experienced person centred counsellor and yoga teacher at The Yoga Studio. Martyn integrates the healing benefits of his counselling practice with yoga to help clients learn how to navigate challenging situations, find their authentic voice, and gather inspiration for a better relationship with themselves and close ones; helping bring about peace, which is the ultimate goal of yoga.
For many, anxiety and depression have always gone hand in hand. Panic attacks or prolonged periods of anxiety can trigger depression. Although no one knows why, most anxiety disorders—including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and phobias—are accompanied by depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Asana (posutres) practice helps counteract anxiety-driven depression because it reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, inducing what’s known as the relaxation response. Once the relaxation response kicks in, many people feel that instead of trying to escape their feelings, they can stay with them, which is essential to identifying the psychological factors that trigger their anxiety and depression.
In addition to its physiological benefits, yoga teaches awareness, an invaluable skill for people who struggle with anxiety or depression. Usually, the first way Westerners learn to build awareness in yoga is by practicing the poses. But the myriad instructions heard in class aren’t just designed to improve your poses. They give your busy mind something to focus on and therefore keep you in the present moment. For people with anxiety, this is a particular blessing. “When you’re anxious, you can’t focus on anything because you feel overwhelmed,” says Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.. As you continue to hone moment-to-moment awareness of your body, breath, emotions, and thoughts in your yoga practice, you’ll bring that awareness to your daily life. When you’re paying attention, you’re more in touch with your thoughts and feelings as they arise in the moment, which is half the battle of resolving them.
Depression can arise when a person tries to deny feelings such as anger or sadness and that learning to truly feel these difficult emotions is what weakens them until they pass away. We develop a lot of strategies for escaping anxiety or sadness—overeating, drinking, even exercise—because we’re a sadness-denying society, but when you learn to sit still in yoga or meditation, you become a container for your feelings. The discipline is not to interact with them, and they will pass away. Sitting with them really is the cure.
Credit to yogajournal.com for some of the text.
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