Researchers find that yoga offers benefits for those suffering from depression. Yoga is a simple practice that takes a little effort, but the benefits are immediate. And there are no negative side effects.

Here are three easy to do poses that may help reduce your depression. Practice them daily during the small moments when you find yourself with nothing to do.

Or you can allocate a designated time to undertake this practice. Either way, stay consistent and you will receive the benefits.

yoga for depression1. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or
Bridge Pose

This is a pose that is all about opening your body. Too often depression causes people to physically close up. It is actually a reason more intuitive people can notice that you are depressed (they unconsciously observe your closed body language). Sometimes we may not feel happy and it is pointless to force it.

However, you can change your mind by changing the positioning of your body.  Setu Bandha Sarvangasana will stretch your spine from the neck to the base. This pose is an inversion (wherein your heart is hoisted above your head) and the benefits of inversions include stress relief and fatigue reduction.

A. Lie on your back and place your hands palms down next to your body.

B. Bring your heels as close to your buttocks as is comfortable and plant your feet squarely on the floor.

C. Ensure that your feet are parallel and then push the ground with your arms and feet. Follow this momentum by lifting your hips towards the ceiling. Imagine a line drawing your hips upwards.

D. Keep your knees directly over your ankles as you walk your feet one to two steps out. Extend further towards the ceiling and maintain your hips in this position.

E. You can now clasp your hands behind your back as you push them against the floor.

F. Maintain this pose from one to five minutes.

G. When exiting this pose, unclasp your hands and return them to the original position. Now gently lower your hips.

cat pose depression2. Marjariasana or Cat Pose

Marjariasana can quickly become a critical tool in your fight against depression. This pose awakens your core without forcing as much exertion as crunches or other intense exercises do.

First, you will develop a spinal massage which will leave your spine more flexible and the fluids in your spine renewed. Your digestion and blood circulation will improve because you are effectively engaging the trunk of your body in a compressing and decompressing motion.

In some ways, it is a pose that symbolizes our heart beat. It will power you up.

A. Get down on all fours. Ensure that your legs are shoulder distance apart and that your hands are directly below your shoulder. This is your starting pose.

B. Gaze gently towards the floor in your starting pose. Ensure that your fingers are equally spaced and that your toes are pointing directly behind you with the top of your feet resting on the floor.

C. Inhale and then Exhale. As you exhale, pull your abdominal muscles towards your back. Allow your back to arch upwards for as long as you exhale.

D. After you have fully exhaled, you should be in the following position: you back is fully arched towards the ceiling while your chin is tucked towards your chest and your tailbone is reaching towards your chin.

E. Inhale and let go of your contracted abs. Return to your starting position.

F. Continue this action as you inhale and exhale. This pose can last anywhere from one to five minutes.

depression yoga3. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose

Bhujangasana is the final pose of the set. At this point, your spine will be very limber and Bhujangasana will help to deliver a final boost in your mood. This pose will stretch the muscles of your core, from abdominals to your chest, and it will flex your shoulders.

Your spine will also thank you as you engage parts of your spine that you likely would not have in years (because nothing in modern society mandates it). The wonderful benefit of this pose is that it swings your chest wide open and allows you to truly get a deep breath which will naturally improve circulation.

A. Lie down on your belly with the tops of your toes touching the floor. Let your forehead rest on the ground.

B. Keep your legs close together and extended. Slide your palms directly under your shoulders. Let your elbows tuck in towards your body, but never under your body.

C. Press into the ground with your feet and push your pubic bone to the ground.

D. Inhale and push your hands against the ground so that you begin to rise upwards with your chest opening along the way.

E. Extend your arms and keep them taut but not locked as you allow your elbows to be slightly bent. Roll your shoulder blades back and swing open your chest. Look towards the ceiling as far back as is comfortable.

F. Maintain this pose for 30 seconds to seven minutes.

G. You can exit two ways. Firstly you can simply lower yourself back to the ground in the way that you came. Or secondly you can push your buttocks back towards your feet so that you are sitting on your feet. You can actually rest in this new pose (called Child’s Pose) for some time.

These three poses will help you incrementally relieve mild depression. They may not be enough on their own to cause a complete cessation of depression, but it is important to understand that even a ten percent improvement is of invaluable meaning.

Start easy and today with these simple, ancient, and powerful poses.

For a thorough education on the practice of yoga to alleviate emotional suffering, see Amy Weintraub’s excellent book, Yoga for Depression: A Comprehensive Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga.

Also, check out this helpful article by Yogi Times:

Practicing Yoga at Home