Ditch depression with this ancient practice

You're feeling down... maybe even hopeless... and it's more than just "the blues" or a passing "funk."

When you've got major depression, life's not exactly a bowl of cherries -- in fact, it's the pits.

It seems like you'll never again take pleasure in the things you used to enjoy.

To make matters worse, the antidepressants your doctor prescribed may not be lifting you out of the misery -- research shows that up to 50 percent of people taking meds for major depression are still down in the dumps.

But according to a new study, you don't have to grin and bear it -- because there's a natural way to beat major depression without drugs.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have found that you can chip away at your depression by taking part in an ancient practice: yoga accompanied by deep breathing.

Depressed adults who either weren't taking antidepressants or weren't getting any relief from taking them were randomly divided into two groups. The "high-dose" group participated in three 90-minute yoga classes per week plus home practice, while the "low-dose" group took only two 90-minute yoga classes per week plus home practice.

The classes involved a certain type of yoga called Iyengar yoga, which emphasizes alignment of your posture along with control of your breath.

At the end of three months, both groups had reduced their symptoms of depression significantly.

But the high-dose group had even FEWER depressive symptoms than their low-dose compatriots.

Translation: Yoga not only works, but even more yoga means an even faster track to digging yourself out of the dumps.

The researchers believe that yoga works to ease depression because -- like other forms of exercise -- it releases "feel good" brain chemicals.

But unlike, say, playing a tennis match or running a 5K, yoga has a relaxing, "meditative" quality as well that promotes a greater sense of well being.

So, if your funk won't fade, don't pop a pill that could make you gain weight and even feel more depressed.

Instead, channel your inner "hippie" and grab a yoga mat!

Ideally, you should try to find an Iyengar yoga class, but if there aren't any in your area, then go with whatever type of yoga is most accessible. You can even get an instructional DVD to watch and do it in front of the TV at home.

All yoga styles share the core practices of holding poses and controlling breath. And don't worry -- you won't have to twist yourself into a pretzel if you don't want to.

But this enlightening practice may lift your spirits so much you'll find yourself chanting "Ohm" and "Namaste" like one of the great yogi gurus!

File this one under: It's worth a try. If it makes you feel any better (even just by reducing those senior moments, which studies have also shown it can do), then it's worth its weight in patchouli and incense.