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Lena Schmidt, a San Diego yoga instructor, persuasively explains the four ways yoga eases depression.
First, yoga is exercise . . . and exercise is scientifically verified to lift and shift moods. For an extra boost, she recommends practicing yoga outdoors.
Second, yoga gives you language to understand feelings. Words such as ‘notice,’ ‘investigate,’ ‘experiment,’ and ‘curious’ are important cues guiding the mind to become more aware of what’s going on inside.
Third, yoga is a mindful practice. Yoga teachers often encourage you to focus breathing, observe body sensations, and pay close attention to emerging thoughts or emotions. “Practicing mindfulness on the yoga mat can provide you with tools to incorporate into your daily lives” she adds.
Fourth, yoga is communal. Making the effort just to get to a yoga class produces the important benefit of social connection. There is a positive energy link to others even when you don’t know anyone in the room. “Although the benefits of yoga are tremendous if practiced solo or at home, getting yourself to a yoga session in the community can boost your mood even more,” Ms. Schmidt notes.