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4/1/2016

pranayama for depression

Benjamin Schwarcz, Psychotherapy and


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Pranayama for
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Pranayama for Depression, Stress,


Anxiety, and Energy
Pranayama literally life-force
control are powerful techniques
for shifting your consciousness,

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purifying mind and body, and


raising your energy. Pranayama is
a core part of several types of
Yoga. Advanced practices should

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only be done with a qualied


teacher. Some Pranayama
techniques are fairly simple to
learn, and I will briey review
some of them here.
Caution: If you are diagnosed (or
suspect) Bipolar Disorder, avoid
intensive pranayama, and do so
only with mindfulness and
moderation, or with a teachers
guidance. If you feel your energy
rising too much, or your mind
becomes too active, stop
immediately and seek consultation.
Forceful abdominal breathing
should also not be done if you have
high blood pressure, heart disease,
lung disease (such as asthma),
hernia or gastric ulcers, without
expert guidance.
The following are safe and very
benecial types of pranayama for
depression, anxiety, and for
general health and wellness:
1. Nadi Shodhana Alternate
nostril breathing: (Balances the
subtle life energy of the body and
the two sides of the brain, calms
the mind and increases vitality; a

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pranayama for depression

good basic pranayama for


depression and emotional
imbalance). Sit comfortably with
head and spine straight, close
your eyes and relax. Close one
nostril with the thumb, breathe a
long slow breath (always from the
belly) through the open nostril.
Then, pausing for a moment,
remove the thumb and cover the
other nostril with the ring and
pinky ngers, and slowly exhale
through the open nostril. Then
inhale back into that same open
nostril, cover it with the thumb
again, and exhale through the
other side. And so on for several
rounds. (Rest the middle and index
ngers between the brows). Keep
the length of breath even. Try
counting to 4 in, and 4 out. To
alleviate anxiety and nervousness,
inhale to a count of 4, and exhale
for a count of 8.
2. Surya Bheda Right-Nostril
Breathing (Especially good
pranayama for depression, with
lethargy, dullness, diculty in
communication and withdrawal
from the external world).
Note: Running parallel to the most
important, central pathway of
subtle energy in the spine called
the Sushumna Nadi, are two
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intertwining pathways called the


Ida and Pingala. The Ida is the
feminine energy channel, leading
to introspection, introversion,
cooling, and calming and is
connected to the left nostril, and
left side of the body. It is
associated with the moon. The
Pingala is the masculine energy
channel, leading to extroversion,
connection with the world,
outward expression/verbal
expression, and physical vitality. It
is connected with the right nostril,
and right side of the body, and is
associated with the sun or Surya.
Placing the right hand in front of
the face as above cover the left
nostril with the ring nger. Inhale
slowly and deeply through the
right nostril. At the end of the
inhalation, close both nostrils, hold
the breath in and gently lower the
chin towards the chest (called the
chin lock or jalandhara bandha),
and gently tighten the perineum
(called the root lock, or moola
banda). This is the muscle of the
pelvic oor where you tighten
when you have to go to the
bathroom. Hold the breath for just
a few seconds if you are a
beginner. Then release the root
lock, raise the head again
releasing the chin lock, and exhale
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through the right nostril, while


continuing to block the left nostril
with the ring nger. Do this for at
least 10 rounds.
3. Kapalabhati Skull Shining
Breath, Frontal Brain Cleansing
Breath (Another excellent
practice of pranayama for
depression, especially when
anxiety is present; good for
calming the mind, decreasing
thoughts, energizing the mind and
body). Sit upright with closed eyes.
Relax. Inhale deeply through both
nostrils, expanding the belly
without straining, and then exhale
forcefully and quickly by
contracting the abdominal
muscles. Then allow the inhalation
to come naturally, passively with
no effort. Again, exhale forcefully,
and inhale passively. Do this 10
times, and then take several slow
deep breathes in and out. Do this
for a few rounds. Then sit still and
focus on the point between the
eyebrows, just being present and
relaxed.
4. Bhastrika Bellows Breath (A very effective pranayama for
depression and anxiety; detoxies
the body and puries the mind;
creates internal heat and
stimulates metabolism; good for
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weight loss; Balances and


strengthens the nervous system,
inducing a peaceful and focused
state of mind).
Relaxing, seated with closed eyes
and straight spine, prepare rst by
taking a few forceful, deep
breaths of equal length, both in
and out, through both nostrils
together. Pump the breath from
the belly (diaphragm), expanding
the belly out as you inhale, and
snapping it back towards the spine
as you exhale.
Now with the right hand, close the
right nostril with the thumb.
Breathe in and out forcefully but
without strain, through the left
nostril 10 times, using only the
diaphragm. (Chest and shoulders
are still). After 10 breaths, inhale
slowly and deeply through the left
again, this time expanding up into
the chest, and hold the breath in,
holding both nostrils closed.
Retain the breath for a few
seconds, and then exhale through
the left nostril.
Repeat this for the right nostril 10
breaths, and then inhale and hold
for a few seconds, and exhale
through the right.
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Now with both nostrils open,


breathe in and out forcefully with
both sides for 10 breaths. Inhale
slowly and deeply through both,
hold a few seconds while closing
both nostrils, and then exhale
through both. This is one round. Do
this for up to ve rounds to start.
Start with slow breaths. As you
advance, breaths can become
faster. Do not strain, or create
excessive discomfort or pressure.
Be gentle.
{If any Pranayama exercises cause
you to feel faint, perspire
excessively, or feel nauseated
afterwards, discontinue and seek
the guidance of a yoga teacher}.
5. Ujjayi Pranayama Victory
Breath Ocean Breath or Psychic
Breath This breath is very
important and has numerous
benets. An excellent pranayama
for depression, anxiety and stress.
Ujjayi is very calming and soothing
to the nervous system and this
type of breathing can be done
during meditation, for added
benet and to lengthen the breath.
There is a slight constriction of the
glottis, in order to produce a soft
whispering sound in the back of
the throat. It soothes the nervous
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system, calms the mind, relaxes


the body, relieves insomnia and
slows the heart rate.
The sound should be barely
audible to another person, buy
you should hear it inside your own
body easily. The whisper is
produced on both the in and outbreath. (Think "Darth Vader" from
Star Wars).
6. Dirga Yogic three-part
breathing: This natural breath is
very important for overall wellbeing, stress reduction and for
meditation. Simply breathe into
the belly rst, expanding the
diaphragm as you inhale. Next
extend into the solar plexus (just
below the rib cage), and last
expand gently into the chest, with
only slight expansion of the rib
cage. Reverse this to exhale
emptying from the chest rst, and
the belly last. This breath is used
for most forms of meditation
which I will explain in more detail
later.
7. Breath of Fire: Vigorous and
energizing. Another great
pranayama for depression, fatigue,
and stress.
Breathe forcefully and more
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quickly inhaling through the


nose and exhaling with the same
force and speed, through the nose
again. Similar to Bhastrika, with
equal force both in and out of both
nostrils together. The diaphragm
works like a pump, expanding and
contracting with much more force
than you would for Dirga.
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7 Comments

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Mamta Vashishtha G B Pant Univ. of Agri. &Tech., Pantnagar,


India
VERY GOOD COMPILATION... THANKS
Like Rep ly

2 Jun 8, 2012 4:17p m

Bharath Kothari CEO at Self-Employed


Excellent
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1 Jun 14, 2012 10:12p m

Latha Venkat Port Blair


do pranayama once in a day to keep the Doctor away
Like Rep ly Jan 17, 2014 10:05am

Shelly Beeman California State University, Stanislaus


So comprehensive! Thank you!
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2 Mar 5, 2014 10:54am

Pankaj Mishra Project Manager at Coaltech Engineers Pvt Ltd


very nice
Like Rep ly May 30, 2014 1:10p m

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