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Breathe well to get rid of depression

Pranayam is the new answer to depression, finds Yojana Sharma. Has pranayam helped you? Tell us here...
By Yojana Sharma (HindustanTimes.com) | None, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2006 03:37 PM IST

Yes, that's the new age mantra. Simple breathing exercises can help you get rid of your blue moods.

Though meditation has long been hailed as a cure for depression, researchers and parishioners now bank on pranayam  for better results.

VOTE FOR PRANAYAM
Dr BN Gangadhar, Professor of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, confirms this. He says that they (at NIMHANS) now teach pranayam  to patients suffering from depression. "We teach simple breathing exercises to our patients. We bank on pranayam  and sudarshan kriya. And these efforts have yielded very good results". Earlier, he says, they taught meditation but pranayam's  effective results made them switch to the latter. Gangadhar recommends pranayam particularly for depression relapse.

Pranayam  is a set of breathing exercises that focuses on mind and emotions. Pranayam  has been known as an effective yoga technique for years. Its popularity soared with Ramdev's preaching. The yoga guru is known for his lessons on pranayam.

One of his disciples Acharya Virender Vikram explains more about

pranayam.

Pranayam

 

has an excellent effect on our nervous system. It gives a boost to the nerves. It also clears any blockage in the circulatory system or heart. We at Divya Yoga Mandir specialise in

pranayam

. We feel that it can help patients get well soon,” he says. He recommends a regular practice of

anulom-vilom

(breathing exercises) for 15-20 minutes everyday. He also recommends

bharamarik asan

for depression patients. 

THE SCIENCE BEHIND PRANAYAM
Delhi-based astrologer Reeta Shanker Seth, however, is smitten by the scientific aspect of pranayam. "Three elements are important for life - food, water and oxygen. We concentrate on eating well and drinking clean water but do not care about breathing oxygen rich air. Ever-increasing pollution is decreasing the oxygen content in air. A normal breath is shallow. It has less oxygen concentration (which is not the case with deep breathe).

It is easy to keep depression at bay 

"A person should keep a good physical health, do regular exercises, should try to create a healthy atmosphere for himself and for others," suggests Dr BN Gangadhar of NIMHANS

We also know that oxygen breaks down food to release energy.  Now, when we breathe shallow, the oxygen deficient air doesn't break down food properly. Hence, all the energy ingredient of the food we eat is not utilised, which is why no mater how much nutrient-rich food we have, we still feel fatigued. Deep breathing helps in such cases. Deep breath is oxygen rich. The more the supply of oxygen in blood, the better organs and tissues perform. Also, when the brain receives sufficient supply of oxygen supply, it releases hormones that give a soothing feeling. Hence, pranayam clicks with those who complain of depression, irritability or uneasiness.

CAREFUL NOTES
A word of caution, however, is that pranayam  should be done under a trained yoga guru only. Rajvi Mehta of BKS Iyengar strictly endorses this view. "If paranayam is done in a wrong way, it could have adverse effects". But for this caution, pranayam has been found to work well on the depression patients.

AGE MATTERS
Contrary to the popular belief, it is the middle-aged persons who suffer from depression more than youngsters. Dr Gangadhar explains, "Depression is caused by several mental and biological factors. A middle-aged person goes through a lot of biological and emotional changes, like menopause in women, change in the social order, losing loved ones, increasing responsibilities towards family and society and other societal pressures. This makes them prone to feeling low in life".

The prevention, however, is easier. "A person should keep a good physical health, do regular exercises, should try to create a healthy atmosphere for himself and for others".

So, get going find a yoga guru and start your day with on a healthy note.

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