When we’re feeling blue we may not have the energy or the motivation to be active. Yet, research finding after research finding has found that getting active and doing something that gives you sense of achievement and confidence is essential if you’re going to beat the blues. Karina, a 42 year-old woman who was feeling blue says, ‘My counselor suggested I do something active, and yoga seemed to fit the bill. I had a friend who raved about it and so I went to my first class with her. Having that support was great. But at first, it was a struggle to get to class, but once I felt the benefits of yoga, I developed a routine. Now, I wouldn’t miss a class for the world. Yoga and learning to breathe correctly, has made me much stronger – physically and emotionally – and I have more confidence. I know I can deal with challenges and I’ll relax in class and have that peace of mind that I can handle life.
Yoga – a nurturing activity
Becoming active is important when you’re blue, but as Karina and others have found, yoga offers them a peace of mind in a nurturing environment. Yoga is all about getting something for yourself from the effort you put it. It’s not about being competitive or gaining an edge on others. You are in the yoga class for yourself – and yourself only.
Yoga encourages us to change things about the way we live. For most people, it’s a lifelong journey. Ruth, a 62 year-old woman found yoga after a couple of big losses in her life. She was feeling down and depressed and read an article about the benefits of yoga. Three years after her discovery of what yoga can offer, she says, ‘Because of yoga I can sit down on the floor and play with my grandchildren.’
Yoga is known for the positive physical and emotional benefits it offers its practitioners. There is a distinct lack of pressure in a yoga class, with an unspoken motto of ‘come along and do as much as you can’.
Developing a regular practice
When you’re feeling down, it’s hard to get motivated, yet with regular practice, you can feel improvements in your sense of well-being. The practice of yoga gives you the tools to ride out the depression – and put yourself into a different physical and emotional space. A regular yoga practice gives us a sense of achievement as well as improving our energy and general fitness.
Yoga poses to the rescue
Whether you’re familiar with yoga poses or not, you can do the following four poses to help you with your blues.
1. Child’s pose (Balasana) Sit on your heels with the feet, knees and legs together.
Now as you breathe out, round yourself over your legs and place your arms forward
of your head. Alternatively, place your hands beside your body with your palms
facing up. Hold for 10 breaths and feel your breath in your spine and the muscles of
your back. This pose deepens your breath, nourishes your brain and massages your
internal organs. It also calms the brain bringing relief from anxiety and depression.
2. Locust pose (Salabhasana) Lie on the floor on the front of your body. Inhale as you raise your upper and lower body from the floor. Exhale as you return to resting.
Your arms are next to your body with your palms facing up. Repeat 3 times. This
pose helps balance the naval chakra, invigorating the body and building confidence.
It’s believed that a strong stretch like locust pose tells the brain, ‘I am here’ and gets
you out of your head.
3. Upward salute (Urdhva hastasana) Stand straight with feet together and arms straight up in the air, palms facing each other. This is a strong standing pose. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing gently into the abdomen and lengthening the spine. This pose is said to re-establish the mind-body connection by working on the body’s bandhas
(internal locks) that increase the flow of energy and information.
4. Legs-up-the-wall (Viparita karani) Sit down close to a wall and swivel yourself so that your body is lying flat to the floor and your legs are positioned straight up the wall. Relax completely in this pose for 10 minutes. This pose invigorates the whole
body. It regulates the glands and reduces states of stress and depression.
Try this sequence of poses morning and evening for a week and you’ll be encouraged by the
positive results physically and emotionally.
To read more about skills and strategies for dealing with the blues, see Losing the 21st Century Blues.
Zita Weber, Ph.D. is an author and honorary academic, and has worked as a counselor and therapist with individuals, couples and families. She has researched and written about communication, stress, relationships, sexuality, depression and loss and grief. More
information about her work and books can be found at: http://zitaweber.com
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