Yoga for Mental Health

6 Tips on How to Teach Yoga for Depression

Are you interested in how to teach yoga for depression? Practicing yoga has many properties that are incredibly regulating, relaxing, and healing for people experiencing mental health challenges.

When teaching yoga to people who are struggling with their mental health, it’s important that we teach our classes in a mental health informed way. Read on for some practical tips on how to teach yoga for depression.

PS: If you are not a yoga teacher but are someone struggling with depression, you may find this info useful too!

People experiencing depression often feel joyless, numb, heavy, lethargic, and hopeless. Many people who suffer from depression have at some point in their lives felt defeated, like their needs weren’t being met, or unable to express their feelings, especially anger. They may also have underlying trauma. So if you teach yoga to people experiencing depression …

1. Meet them where they are at:

➜ Accept that they may be feeling low on energy and don’t want to move very much

➜ Try to support their nervous system by starting your class in a very gentle way, perhaps lying on their backs

2. Give them back their power by

➜ Encouraging choice and offering different options

➜ Letting them practice with their eyes open or closed

➜ Using language that’s inviting instead of demanding

3. Help their nervous system to regulate

➜ By showing up with your own regulated nervous system

➜ Gentle breath and movements to mobilize

➜ Using language that’s inviting instead of demanding

4. Help them to energize

➜ Teach gentle breath and movement practices to help them get out of a state of shutdown

➜ Make sure that your exercises are not too demanding so that their nervous system doesn’t become overwhelmed

5. Reconnect them to their heart

➜ By creating a safe and heartful energy in class

➜ Heart opening exercises

➜ Compassion based practices

➜ Reconnecting to feelings and needs

6. Encourage self-expression

➜ Emphasize exploration and curiosity

➜ Include non-linear and authentic movement

➜ Let them be creative

➜ Work on releasing shame and inhibition

💕 Deniz

Deniz Aydoslu, MSc, E-RYT, is a criminologist and Yoga for Mental Health Teacher and teacher trainer. She researches and teaches on the intersection of embodied movement and mental health, including yoga, somatics, dance, mindfulness, and relaxation therapy. She creates soft yet powerful healing spaces where people can reconnect to their bodies, feelings, and heart so that they can live with more resilience, authenticity, and joy.

Deniz is the founder of Somatic Yoga for Mental Health and runs teacher training programs for yoga teachers and (mental) health professionals. She is a Yoga Alliance Certified Continuing Education Provider.