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Yoga therapist / teacher and Anxiety sufferer Daniel talks to us about how yoga can help to manage anxiety and depression on a daily basis
Postnatal Depression for both mothers and fathers is a
very common reaction following the birth of a child.
Exhaustion, stress, sleeplessness days/nights
and adaption to the change in
circumstances can provoke
feelings of worry, anxiety and
Recognise the signs
How yoga can help the mind
Recognition and acknowledgement of the signs of postnatal depression are important first steps in overcoming this life changing experience. Letting family, friends, support workers or your partner know, regardless of how severe the depression feels, is the start of working towards the healing process. For many parents, however, thoughts of taking anti-depressant/anxiety medication or regular sessions with a therapist are unbearable. Yoga classes and Yoga therapy can offer an evidenced-based alternative to these traditional Western-medicine remedies. Or be used to safely run alongside what your doctor has prescribed.
Yoga is an ancient practice which has many different parts, however the main areas most classes will focus on will be asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing) which have indispensable applications in the treatment of depression. Specific postures have been found to have a regulating effect on the endocrine/nervous system, and there is research evidence to show that the regular practice of yoga reduces the production of stress hormones. During stress, when the breathing becomes rapid, signals are sent from the brain to the adrenal glands to secrete stress hormones. However, with the regular practice of yoga, the breath remains steady even when confronted with stress, and consequently, this reduces the brain’s impulse to produce and secrete stress hormones. Stress hormones in the body are necessary in certain situations, but the prolonged production of these can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, digestive problems or a depressed immune system.
Yoga Therapy
Research evidence

"Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one:
the step you are taking
right now."
― Eckhart Tolle,

The Power of Now:
A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment


Stress hormones
Prolonged production of stress hormone
Practising Yoga
Yoga can be practiced in class, at home or 1:1 with a teacher. The practice offers gentle, restorative physical rehabilitation with the potential for gradually increasing the intensity of the physical practice to build up strength, stamina and overall physical wellbeing. Yoga also offers new parents techniques for relaxation and releasing tension in the body that builds up with the stress and worry of caring for a new baby, as well as techniques for re-setting the mind and letting go of needless concerns.
Meditation & Relaxation
Additionally, the practice of meditation or relaxation techniques such as Yoga idra (lying down meditation), balance cortical activity and the nervous and endocrine systems, thus reducing the body’s predisposition to react to stress. As a result, the body produces less stress hormones (e.g. adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol).
Yoga Nidra
During a Yoga session, a parent with PND can experience the benefits of stretching the body, releasing tension and compressing the glands in various postures. They can also feel the immediate, energising effects of abdominal breathing, and the calming effects of slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing. When focusing their attention on the breath or visualisation in meditation, they withdraw their mind from the senses. Most people generally feel a sense of calm and relaxation following a Yoga session and in many cases notice an improvement in sleep patterns.
Advice from Daniel
Before parting with any time or money please do some research and find a teacher who has experience in working with others with PND or other Mental Health conditions. Maybe try out a local class for yourself which incorporates some of the suggestions in this article. You want to consider classes either on your own to give yourself some time and space. Or maybe bonding with your child is something you would like to work on. For this please look up Post Natal/ Mum and Baby classes. These are tailored specifically for you and your baby. Check out Birthlight who offer a listing of all qualified teachers and classes.
Finding a therapist & Links
UK Based Yoga Therapist
Yoga Therapy can be a hugely effective way to work directly with your PND. It’s the application of Yoga techniques specific to your condition usually 1:1 or in a small group with similar needs. To find a UK based Yoga Therapist please speak to a Yoga Teacher for a referral or search here.
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Please remember you are not alone and don’t be afraid to ask for help.