About 2 years ago, I was in the worst depression spell of my life. I was fucking miserable. Reading about positive thinking, changing your mindset and other spiritual shit that was supposed to ‘heal me’ and make me happy made me frustrated, and angry, and even more hopeless. When you’re depressed, there is really nothing to be positive about. Nothing to feel especially grateful for. No new, shiny, exciting things to look forward to. The only positive, healing thing that I deemed worth a try was my old friend yoga — and today I want to share with you how yoga helps your depression.
1 | You benefit from the daily routine and structure
The easiest way to build a consistent yoga habit is to pick a time and stick to it. It’s a big commitment, I get it. But there’s a reason why morning and evening routines are making everyone buzz from excitement right now. Routine and structure are good for you!
It doesn’t mean that you have to practice for hours. And if the only productive thing you managed to accomplish today is sitting up on your bed and practicing 10 minutes of yoga on your bed — bitch, you got this. I’m so proud of you.
2 | It’s not a massive, scary commitment
Committing to your happy, healing, habits is a good thing. And the beauty of it is that you make the rules. You can make your daily yoga time as sweet and short as you’d like.
Ambition is good and all, but when you’re not feeling 100% you can easily overwhelm yourself, burn out, and find yourself back at the starting point. You’re trying to help your depression with yoga, you know, not make yourself feel ten times worse!
Start from 10 minutes and build up to 30. Build up your practice on your body’s terms — it knows when to rest and when it’s had enough.
(Also a plus — you don’t need to make yourself pretty or leave the house. Nobody’s going to see you. All you have to do is get up and put on a YouTube video on your phone, pretty much.)
3 | Yoga can help you cope with sleeping issues
Depression usually comes hand in hand with insomnia or other sleeping issues. What bliss!
I’ve dabbled with bouts of debilitating insomnia since I was 14. It’s a shitty, vicious cycle that can drain you and make you even more miserable than you otherwise would be.
Yoga will help lower your stress levels and help you sleep deeper, more peacefully, and reach a more beneficial state of rest. For both your body and mind.
When you sleep better, you feel better. Isn’t it infuriatingly simple?
4 | You’ll be encouraged to pick up other healthy habits
In addition to helping you cope with insomnia, yoga can also inspire you to take better care of yourself in other areas. It becomes so much easier to build an arsenal of healthy habits that make you feel and do better in your day to day life.
When you get more involved and invested in the practice of yoga, it becomes a natural part of your daily routine. You start to grow. You want to improve yourself — maybe even start working on your mindset, positivity and all that other spiritual shit.
Besides, you can’t really get the most out of your practice if you’re eating heavy, unhealthy foods or abusing alcohol, right?
Embrace the growth, my friend.
It’s okay to start feeling good again, even if it’s just for a moment or two.
5 | Yoga gives you a dose of the happy chemicals
Moving your body and practicing the physical postures of yoga will release endorphins and make you feel better. It makes sense to use yoga for managing your depression, right? It’s science, so you can’t fight it!
That happy, empty moment of pure calm and quietude after yoga is like a warm, soft hug from the Universe. Nice substitute if you don’t have any puppies to cuddle!
Yoga also helps you control and deepen your breathing, which lowers your heart rate and allows more oxygen to flow to your body. Managing your breathing is a key exercise when it comes to coping with anxiety or panic attacks, so don’t overlook its significance.
6 | You get to enjoy instant gratification
Some people feel instantly better after they get on the mat and finish their first ever practice. It’s like they were lost, wandering around in the desert and just downed the purest, coldest glass of water. They sleep better, they’re in less physical pain, they have more energy and clarity. Their minds open. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, after all.
For others, it might take a little bit longer — but it’s worth the wait. For me, something clicked in my second week of practicing. I could see and feel how much stronger and flexible I had gotten in such a short period of time. This aspect of yoga is still something that motivates me to keep practicing and growing with yoga.
7 | You can spoil yourself without splurging
Yoga is the most essential part of my self-romancing routine. You can read more about how I make my yoga sessions extra special and tender in this post.
Pampering yourself doesn’t mean spending tons of cash on luxurious items. You can make yourself feel just as special by adding simple relaxing elements to your yoga sessions — splurge free. Think something like candles, essential oils, and air purifying plants.
8 | You can just let go
You can get out of your own head, you know.
Yoga is a beautiful way to do it. During your practice, all you have to care about are the instructions and cues of the teacher. Everything else can disappear.
If you’re having trouble getting yourself into that zone, I suggest you switch things up and try a style of yoga that is faster paced and more dynamic. Something like Vinyasa or Ashtanga.
Challenge yourself — but listen to your body to keep it safe.
Moving and sweating and occasionally swearing at your screen can be a form of meditation, too.
You make the rules for your practice.
9 | You’ll learn that it’s okay to be selfish
I want to shout this from the rooftops. I believe in being selfish. Yeah, I really fucking do.
It’s your goddamn life — and you are not in any way obligated to fulfill other people’s dreams. It’s not your problem. You don’t owe your existence to anyone. Making other people happy is not your responsibility.
You were put on this Earth to be happy and find your purpose. To live a life that aligns with your truth and values. To share it with the people who share those values and only offer you unconditional support, love, and encouragement.
It’s okay to be selfish and go after what you want, not what’s expected from you. Doesn’t apply to serial killers and rapists, of course, or Cheeto-colored megalomaniacs.
You have the power to create the life you desire. And it’s okay to be scared sometimes. That’s one of the reasons we turn to yoga.
Yoga is a sacred practice that will teach you the importance of listening to your body, putting yourself first, and treasuring the time you take just for yourself. It’s your private, personal moment of realization and self-discovery. Acceptance, surrender, letting go.
And letting go of all the expectations and pressure that other people put on you will feel like freedom.
You might just feel a whole lot happier.
Yes, yoga really helps with depression and managing your stress.
It doesn’t even have to be depression, really. But if you’re ever having a shitty day or feeling less than your usual stellar self, give it a try. At the end of the day… What do you really have to lose?
Yoga helps you cope with depression and stress on so many wonderful levels. You get to move your body and enjoy the endorphins, you have that glorious sense of peace, quiet and solitude, and can start practicing mindfulness, being in the moment, focusing on your breath. Start loving your body and what it’s capable of.
Keep in mind that yoga is not the cure for anything. It won’t make your anxiety or depression suddenly disappear and make you love life again.
But it’s an amazing coping mechanism that could prove invaluable to your journey. I still remember the days when I was curled up on my mat crying my eyes out, so, you know. Been there.
And here I am. Still.
All you have to do is begin. Be brave and show up. Try as hard as you can. Do your best.
You are enough.
Hi, I’m Vivi! I’m a transformation mentor, writer, and yoga enthusiast. My life’s purpose is empowering spiritually curious women to be and do whatever the hell they want to. I’m here to share my journey and truth with you — unapologetically, with a touch of sarcasm and a lot of heart. I want to help you grow and follow your soul’s desire, not anybody else’s rules. I write weekly about personal growth and yoga on this blog. You can join the List to receive a weekly letter of inspiration and guidance!