Yoga and the mind: How it helps you beat stress, anxiety, depression


    New Delhi: Regular practice of yoga can help you stay calm, relaxed in daily life, even beat stress, anxiety and depression without popping pills.

    Many scientifically minded individuals may wonder how yoga can help allay anxiety. That’s because probably we only relate yoga to better physical health even though it is an age-old Indian practice.
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    The truth is that yoga has a great role to play in mental wellbeing. If not as a mainstay, then even as an add-on. For starters, a stressed body leads to a stressed mind and negative thoughts. Yoga instills calmness in one’s body and mind, leading to more positive thoughts. Perhaps, lifestyle modification is number one for preventing and combating stress, anxiety and depression.
    On the occasion of International Yoga Day, Dr Era Dutta, Consultant Psychiatrist at Mind Wellness, Kolkata, gives us some facts we need to know about the neurobiochemical changes that yoga contributes to in the mind in certain psychiatric problems. Take a look below:

    Adrenaline is the main chemical that leads to anxiety. Yoga helps allay anxiety by controlling the excessive release of adrenaline & noradrenaline from the – kidney and brain. Another chemical involved is GABA. By regulating GABA, regular yoga helps act like an anti-anxiety medicine.

    What to do: The various asana for e.g. Child pose (balasana), conscious breathing, Tree pose (Vriksana) and Legs up wall pose (Viparita Karani) etc. help reduce adrenaline overflow.

    Yoga’s role in Depression
    Say hello to happy chemicals of the brain like – Serotonin and rush of endorphins. What to do: Opt for faster forms of yoga like Power yoga and hot yoga for a surge in these.

    Yoga’s role in Memory problems
    By engaging in stretch postures that require one to maintain balance, there is an improvement in attention & concentration therefore better memory.

    What to do: Head stand (sirasana), Warrior pose (virbhadarasana) and poses that require balance

    Results from my own research revealed that a significantly better outcome was observed in those battling alcohol & tobacco addiction who resorted to Yoga as an add on therapy along with medication & counseling. The comparison was with individuals who were only on the latter two.

    MeditationDisconnecting from the digital world and engaging your mind in mindfulness (being in the moment) is a scientific way to help fight cellphone addiction. Make this a part of your child’s life from early on.

    Whether it is decreasing cortisol, or fighting blues. Yoga is a one stop for over all reduction of stress and better wellbeing.

    Prevent mental problems by making yoga a part of your daily ritual from early on. After all, prevention is always better.

    International Day of Yoga, or commonly and unofficially referred to as Yoga Day, is celebrated annually on 21 June since its inception in 2015.

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