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A young woman practicing iyengar yoga at home in her living room.
April 6, 2019

How Does Yoga Help Depression?

In recent years, yoga has become an increasingly popular practice that many individuals are incorporating into their lives. Many people recognize that yoga is capable of bestowing a number of vital health benefits, but how does yoga help depression? Because of the recent spike in popularity of yoga, many studies have been done to analyze the mental health benefits of yoga and the relationship between yoga and depression. To understand how yoga can help with depression, it’s necessary to have a foundational understanding of what yoga is first.

If you have just gone through an inpatient drug rehab program and are experiencing feelings of depression, yoga may be a great practice to get into. Going through a drug detox is difficult and can bring forth a whole host of emotional issues.

Read on to learn how breathing exercises, light stretching, and postures may be able to help with depressive symptoms post-rehab.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a physical exercise that is comprised of a variety of different components, such as breathing techniques, meditation, postures, and different body poses. There are many different styles of yoga that incorporate different poses and vary in intensity.

Yoga and Depression: How Does Yoga Help?

Many people incorporate yoga into their daily lives to improve their overall health and well-being, but now many individuals are beginning to examine the connection between yoga and depression. So how does yoga help with depression? Below are a handful of the top ways in which practicing yoga can help improve depression.

Natural Anxiety Relief and Stress Response Control

There are a number of different reviews available that analyze the effects of yoga practices that suggest that yoga can help to reduce the impact of stress responses, which can help abate the symptoms and effects of both anxiety and depression. Like other self-soothing mechanisms, yoga can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety which can result in physiological change, such as a decrease in blood pressure, easing of respiration, and a reduction in heart rate. Some studies have also suggested that yoga can help boost heart rate variability, which is an indication of how adaptable the body is to respond to stress.

Increased Serotonin Production

When analyzing depression, one important component of the human body to be aware of is serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces that is believed to play a vital role in happiness. The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience posits that “Serotonin plays a role, not only in the treatment of depression but also in susceptibility to depression.” So how does yoga affect your serotonin production?

The practice of yoga is believed to help boost serotonin production naturally because of its calming, gentle, and focused approach to movement and breathing. Yoga practice can be tailored to individuals of all skill levels and will teach individuals to focus on their breath and body in a way that helps improve both their health and the mind-body connection.

Boosted Blood Flow

Yoga practice is also tied to the body’s circulatory system as the physical poses help to redistribute blood flow, which can help increase oxygen delivery through the blood and boost overall blood flow. This happens because of the sequence of yoga poses, which briefly cut off blood supply to certain areas of the body temporarily during each pose. After the pose is held and released, the blood has reached a higher volume and pressure, which causes newly oxygenated blood to be released into the system. This increase in the functionality of the circulatory system results in an increase in heart rate variability.

A Sense of Community to Rely On

In addition to the physiological benefits, yoga can also be helpful for individuals suffering from depression because of its ability to foster a sense of community. When you practice yoga, you are joining a community of individuals who are also working on bettering their physical and mental health. Many individuals in the yoga community are compassionate and want to have a strong sense of community with those around them.

Wrapping Up

Yoga can be an extremely beneficial practice for individuals struggling with anxiety or depression and can help impart significant health benefits that not only boost overall health and well-being, but also help to combat the effects of depression. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner of yoga, there is a yoga practice for everyone

If you have recently gone through a drug or alcohol detox program, practicing yoga may be the perfect addition for your long term treatment plan. Yoga and meditation can be an excellent practice to get into to relieve your depressive state. Try it out today to see if it works for you.


Everyday Health. “How Yoga Helps With Depression, Anxiety, and Addiction.” Retrieved from

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. “Yoga for Anxiety and Depression.” Retrieved from

Healthline. “Using Yoga to Relieve the Symptoms of Depression.” Retrieved from

National Center for Biotechnology Information, Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. “How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain Without Drugs.” Retrieved from