Yoga Therapy for Anxiety & Depression

This evidence-based 8 week protocol of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan shifts long term patterns of anxiety and depression through integrating a thorough investigation into the causes and effects of anxiety and depression with the techniques to shift these.

Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy for Anxiety and Depression


The 8-week protocol for anxiety and depression introduces new concepts slowly, ensuring a thorough integration of skills and understanding before any new concepts or skills are introduced. Teaching Kundalini Yoga to populations of people who identify with having symptoms of anxiety and depression is vastly different to teaching healthy populations, and there is a profound recognition within this protocol for anxiety and depression of the needs of this particular population. Kundalini Yoga therapy focuses on all illness as conditions of low prana (life force/healing energy) and the concept of using prana as medicine is integral to this form of therapy. The use of the Naad, or the sound current, permeates throughout this system of healing and this awakens a deeper connection to the breath. The typical breath pattern which is connected with anxiety and depression is overturned and the experience of deep and regular breathing is integrated into a new state of being. The accompanying state of mind is also a new experience for this population and brings with it thoughts that are calm and spacious, and a way of engaging with life that is a reflection of this tranquillity.

This 8-week protocol is based on extensive research conducted by the Guru Ram Das (GRD) Institute of Medicine and Humanology. The Institute has spent thirty years researching the effectiveness of Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, as a healing form for serious illness, and has recently been certified as a member of IAYT (International Alliance of Yoga Therapists) with all the courses that are conducted by the GRD Faculty receiving international recognition.


Your psyche may produce anxiety when you are depressed, in order to get up and go, and keep going. Energy is typically low with depression, and thoughts are unclear, so with a bit of adrenalin-producing anxiety you can at least get moving and be functional in the world. For some people, anxiety is adaptive for a depressed state with the state of anxiety “covering up” the depression to ensure they can keep going. If you recognise yourself in some of the following symptoms, this protocol is for you.

  • I feel guilty for everything
  • I feel responsible for everything
  • I’m tired but I can’t sleep
  • I fall asleep but I can’t stay asleep
  • I just don’t know what to do, can’t make any decisions, can’t focus
  • I feel like something terrible is going to happen and it will all be my fault
  • It’s difficult to keep track of things, my thoughts are scattered and disturbing
  • I can’t remember things, can’t process anything
  • I don’t have what I need
  • I feel tension in my body
  • It’s hard to feel anything at all
  • My breath is shallow, short and rapid a lot of the time
  • What if I’m like this forever? I can’t go on like this; I don’t want to live anymore.

In current Western society anxiety and depression is experienced by large numbers of people from many sectors of society including business, educational institutions with both students and education staff experiencing high stress conditions, medical personnel, people with terminal illnesses, people who have suffered trauma (research shows that the majority of South Africans – 73.8% – have  experienced multiple traumatic events), government departments and the creative industries such as film and advertising professionals.

The 8 week protocol costs R4000 and must be done as a whole. There are 8 segments with in-depth information on the Yogic perspective on anxiety and depression, with the tools and techniques to deal with these conditions, and home practices to assist in the integration of the learning. The course can be repeated many times in order to fully integrate all the healing processes, and many anxiety and depression sufferers find it useful to do this. The research from the anxiety and depression protocol has shown great improvements in symptoms of anxiety and depression even 10 years after doing the course.


For thousands of years yoga has been taught as a method to tranquilise the mind and enliven the body. In recent times evidence-based research shows that the practices included in yoga like postures of the body, relaxation, visualisation, and controlled breathing and meditation, can normalise an activated autonomic sympathetic nervous system, calm tension in the muscles, lower blood pressure, enhance endocrine system activity, reduce physical and emotional discomfort, and improve general wellbeing (Emerson et al, 2009). The conclusion of a large meta-study analysing the results of many research studies highlights yoga and meditation as a very effective complementary treatment for severe mental illness, particularly for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression (Cabral et al, 2011).  The difference between yoga therapy and a yoga class lies in the intention. In yoga therapy sessions for either individuals or groups, the intention is to focus on the specific condition that is being experienced by the client/group, while in yoga classes the intention has a more general focus on strength building, stretching and breath and visualisation exercises. Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, was taught to healthy people, while Kundalini yoga therapy has a very specific focus on how to treat illness. After an appropriate intake, and assessment, therapists will focus on the specific symptoms that are troubling their clients and identify methods to help them manage those symptoms. The therapist’s job is less about teaching yogic techniques and more about helping clients to overcome their challenges and gain independence.


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