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Counter Depression with Yoga

Depression is a negative state of mind that takes many forms from the short-lived feelings of sadness. Actually, depression is man’s own creation. Beginning with a child till one attains a tottering old age, this mental depression can arise out of any event or situation. 

 We are not satisfied with whatever we have. Our wishes, desires and hopes are unlimited. Whenever our desires are not satisfied, ego of our mind is hurt and responds by a reaction. In Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Lord Shri Krishna has said that mind is the source of happiness or unhappiness. What type of thoughts we accumulate in mind becomes the source of our happiness or unhappiness.


Mind is nothing but a collection of Samskaras (impressions). Mind / Manas, Intellect / Budhi, Memory/ Chitta and Ego / Ahamkara are four functional aspects of the mind. These are four different forms of the same element operating in four different working fields. When the mind does Sankalpa-Vikalpa (will-thought and doubt), it is called Mind; when it discriminates and decides, it is Buddhi; when it is the storehouse of Samskaras and seat of memory, it is Chitta; when it self-arrogates, it is Ahankara. Whatever work (Karma) we do, any incident we see or hear, it reaches our mind, intellect & memory through our working organs (Karmendriyas) & sense organs (Jnanendriyas). It gets embedded in our memory in the shape of subtle form (Sanskar). In fact, our memory is a treasure or bank of all our good & bad Karmas & this memory (Thoughts) is actually our personality. Yog is the main approach for development of personality.


To bring the depression down, first look at why you are depressed. Try to change the nature of mind & emotions. Trust life. When you are emotionally down, think of a happy incident. Always entertain healthy & positive thoughts. Insecurities indicate you to be creative & alert. Lots of people fear failure, death, insecurity & rejection. Understand that when one door closes another opens. Just think it is matter of time and failure is only postponed success. If you bring this energy into your life, it will give you methods of handling any difficult situation. So when fear happens, do not get indentified with it. Just watch it. Witness your fear. Fear is actually just a thought or word. Explore yourself & learn to trust that insecurities, fear & failures are inviting you to be creative & making you stronger. We should live in realistic world & stay away from the superiority complex, the inferiority complex & a mix of the both. A slightly clouded sky will get cleared with sunrise. But a sky, which is full of tornado and typhoon, will create terrible destruction before it gets cleared.


Control of thought waves in the mind is Yoga. In the Yoga Sutra, Saint Patanjali states that our inner obstacles create mental distraction, which in turn leads to depression. These inner obstacles can be removed by the practice of Asana, Pranayama & Meditation. Yoga helps in providing freedom from the negative thoughts and creates an atmosphere of positivity all around. The entire nature is made up of three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas (purity, activity and ignorance). People with Tamasic Depression lack life force or Prana. Yoga postures will activate and move Prana in the body, open the heart center, stimulate nervous system and balance the body-mind-spirit. Vigorous practices such as repeated Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar), Flexibility Exer­cises, Sravangasana, Matsyasana, Halasana, Dhanurasana, Vajrasana, Ushtrasana, Shavasana poses can be therapeutic & stimulating and help fight Tamas. The body and mind are so occupied with the practice of these asanas that it's hard to brood.

When teaching vigorous practices to students with depression, don't worry much about proper alignment as long as they aren't doing anything that might cause an injury. Its better to have them just do the practice and focus on the movement of the breath. These will clear all depression and will surely enlighten the life by rejuvenation and lightening the lamp of hopeful life.


Regular practice of Pranayama increases the mental energy; develops thought-control and thought-culture. This calms the mind, makes the mind steady, reduces stress, alleviates anxiety & helps in concentration and meditation. By Pranayama, the mind gradually moves from the gross to the subtle. When some evil thought disturbs your mind, do Pranayama. The thought will leave you immediately. Pranayamas like Bhramari, Shitali, Shitkari, Kapalabhati, Nadi Sodhana can help in treatment of depression. Bhramari Pranayama helps in rejuvenating the brain and keeps the body active. Shitali, Shitkari Pranayama reduces the anger. Kapalabhati Pranayama makes the brain lighter. Nadi Sodhana Pranayama purifies the Nadis ;as a result the pranas are smooth & mind is peaceful.


Meditation reduces stress, calms the mind, reduces negativity and creates a positive mental attitude. One should sit for meditation early morning, at noontime, in the evening and at night for 15 to 20 minutes. The patient should go on repeating to his mind “I am quite well, I am quite healthy, I am quite composed.” He should continue thinking that everything is beautiful & auspicious all around. Then everything will turn out beautiful, healthy, sound and happy all around.


· One should go for a long walk in the early morning hours in a cleaner environment.
· It is advisable to consume fresh vegetables, fresh juices of fresh fruits, sprouted grains & skimmed milk without cream. Drink lots of water daily.
· Eat at least three meals a day. Skipping meals promotes high stress and low energy. Eat protein with every meal. Eat complex carbohydrates such as brown rice.
· A study of good books, company of people of matured thought and positive thinking, company of people who can infuse faith, inspire and leave deep impression would be of much help.
· Consult a psychiatrist for timely advice and treatment in cases of acute depression.


Tamsic thoughts, negative thinking, day dreaming, sexual thoughts, short breathing, wrong method of breathing, anger, worry, excessive happiness, excessive sorrow, spicy food, fried food, sugar, junk food, white flour, cookies, cake, caffeine alcohol, smoking & extreme sleeping habits. Alcohol can worsen depression, anxiety and sleep problems.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

Aum Shanti


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