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Healing Combo: How Yoga and Swimming Helped Me Beat DepressionBy Patricia Sarmiento Posted 05-May-2015

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Image: John Spade

My depression hit me like a ton of bricks. I had just given birth to my second child so when I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep, moody, and overly anxious I chalked it all up to the baby blues. But the symptoms persisted. My insomnia worsened. I was quick to anger. And worst of all, despite everything I had to be grateful for, including my amazing family, I just couldn’t find any joy in my days. I was depressed.

Thankfully, I was able to get the help I needed. I have a great doctor, and she helped me get back on my feet. But there are two other things that helped me recover, and I don’t think I would have been able to heal without them—swimming and yoga.

Here’s the step-by-step process for how these amazing exercises helped me heal:

Step one. Jump in. Any form of exercise can help alleviate depression symptoms, but as this article explains“Depression & Swimming”—swimming is a great choice for people suffering from the disease. It was also a natural choice for me. I’ve always loved swimming, and I thought the low impact exercise would help me feel better without putting extra stress on my body.

Step two. Namaste. Swimming and yoga have always been somewhat connected in my mind. The stretching and relaxing of the muscles and the rhythmic breathing of swimming are what made me think yoga would be good for me when I first tried it years ago. But yoga, too, has been shown to be an effective part of depression treatment. In fact, as this recent CBS News article notes, yoga’s role in depression treatment is a rich area of study and evidence has shown that it can be therapeutic for people who suffer from depression and anxiety.

All of that said, I had never been a consistent yoga practitioner. So, I dusted off my mat and made a goal to practice yoga at least four times a week. Then, I hit the Internet to research poses that worked well for healing depression and anxiety. There are many such resources out there, but I found theses poses for depression from the Huffington Post and these poses from Mind Body Green for fighting anxiety to be really great for me.

Step three. Combine the two. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I just don’t want to get out of the pool. And particularly when I was struggling with my depression, the pool became such a happy, peaceful place for me that I didn’t want to leave. Then, one day it hit me: I could try aqua yoga. It was the perfect excuse to stay in the pool a little longer. I was able to find aqua yoga versions of many of my depression-fighting poses online. The buoyancy of the water made the experience even more therapeutic. Now, I end almost every swim workout by moving through an aqua yoga sequence.

I truly believe that without yoga and swimming I would not have been able to heal as quickly or as well as I have. Because of the two, I was able to conquer the depression and anxiety that were preventing me from enjoying the time I was getting to spend with my baby daughter and the rest of my family. And for that I will be forever grateful.

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Patricia Sarmiento has been a fitness buff since her days swimming and running as a high school and college athlete. She loves blogging about health, wellness, fitness, and other health-related topics. She makes active, healthy living a constant goal. She lives with her family in Maryland.

 

 



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