Sequences: Yoga & Depression Practices to Consider

Meditation and Unregulated Depression

Meditation is powerful, as you know. But one problem of meditating when you have depression is that the meditation itself can turn on you and become a litany of self-blame and despair. You might think you’re meditating and helping yourself, but you’re not; you’re ruminating, digging yourself into a deeper and deeper hole. So the biggest contraindication to meditating is severe unregulated depression, and this must be respected because the rumination picks up steam and can drive you into the depths. So it’s wise to wait until you’ve achieved balance before beginning a meditation program. – Lynn Anjali Somerstein

With Clinical Depression, Yoga is a Supplementary Treatment

Always keep in mind that yoga is a supplementary treatment for depression, not a standalone cure. You can use it to help someone who is recovering from depression or to help someone who has once suffered from it to prevent its recurrence. But serious depression (as opposed to, say, just feeling mildly depressed about life) can be a life-threatening disease and someone with serious depression should be under professional care. While yoga teachers can work with someone who has serious depression, the teacher should always make sure the student is also seeing a trained professional. – Nina Zolotow

The Importance of Also Developing Inner Resources

Clinical depression… can be quite dangerous, and medical intervention may call for drug therapy in the hands of an experienced physician to stabilize mood swings, and make the condition manageable. Many physicians, however, are concerned that such drugs are being overused… More and more, they warn, we are seeing a society in which life’s inevitable downturns are met by popping a pill. But ups and down are the very texture of life, and mind-stabilizing drugs, over time, may actually weaken the inner resources we need to master whatever life sends us. When we go on unnecessarily suppressing ordinary mood swings with a powerful drug, we may be suppressing our capacity for creativity, for sensitivity to others, for drawing on our own deeper resources to go beyond the mood swings of excitement and depression and find real peace of mind. – Eknath Easwaran