The mind, body and spirit are all connected and when a person suffers from mild depression or anxiety, the body is out of balance. Yoga is a series of stretches that helps bring balance to the body; not just focusing on the body’s health, but also on the mind and spirit. Always consult a physician or counselor if you are having ongoing feelings of depression or anxiety and before trying any new exercise program.
1. Begin with the Lotus position, sitting crossed legged with hands resting on the knees, palms up. The most important thing is to remember to breathe. To calm the rapid breathing often accompanying panic attacks, focus on your breathing at first, a five count in and a five count out, but let the breathing become natural. Let the breathing set the rhythm of the practice. Eyes should be closed, listening to the rhythm of the breathing. After five or ten minutes here, the body should feel calmer.
2. Viparita Karani is a great pose for either depression or anxiety as it has both a soothing and energizing effect. Often called the fountain of youth pose, it can be done by beginners or experts. Lay flat on the back with the arms laying at the side and palms down or open the arms with palms up to open the heart even more. Rest the legs against the wall to hold this pose longer comfortably or for more advanced practices, lift up the lower back and rest the bottom on the hands.
3. Fish pose is a terrific pose for opening the heart. Opening the heart with back-bending yoga positions is believed to not only expand the ribcage to give the lungs more room to breathe, but to open the spiritual heart center. Opening the heart, or stretching the chest, eases respiration, relieves stress by unclogging the tension in the tissue in the core. Laying on the back with the arms at the side, round the back and lean as far back on the crown of the head as is comfortable. Lay a bolster, yoga block or pillow under the back for support.
4. In the laying position Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or the Bridge pose is different from a bridge in gymnastics. With bent knees lift the core, arms should lay at the side, palms up or interlock the fingers behind the back. This pose calms the mind and energizes the body. Place a bolster or pillow under the back to hold this pose longer and more comfortably.
5. & 6. The calming poses, Cow and Cat, should be used together. Position the knees under the hips and the hands under the shoulders, kneeling on all fours with a neutral spine. With the inhale, let the belly sink towards the floor, looking up for Cow and letting the head fall down, with the exhale, round the back up to the ceiling for Cat. Keep the eyes closed as much as possible. Try and round the back one vertebra at a time. This pose is terrific for stress in the back; it establishes ideal spinal alignment, strengthens and stretches back muscles in the back and develops coordination of spinal movement.
7. Salabhasana or the Locust pose is a yoga posture. Lying on the belly with the arms along side the body, lift the legs and arms together and lift the chest as high as is comfortable. This pose opens the heart, helps poor posture, depression, low energy, digestion, gas, bladder and back pain. Move into Dhanurasana or Bow pose, relax, then bend the knees and take hold of the feet with the hands. Pull back with the legs to help open up the heart and chest.
8. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or the Upward Facing Dog pose can be entered from Locust by coming to a neutral laying position, then planitng the toe nails and the palms, directly under the shoulders, into the mat. Lift the body slowly off the mat so that only the tops of the feet and the palms of the hands are the only parts of the body firmly planted to the mat.
9. Child’s pose or Balasana is a resting position which can help calm the body and the mind when under stress. Return to Child’s pose at any time during practice when feeling as though the body may have been pushed too far. On bended knees, lean forward with the forehead to the the mat. Lay arms at the sides of the body with palms up next to the feet or palms down stretched over the head. Breathe deeply, focusing on the breath with eyes closed.
10. Every yoga practice should be competed with Savasana or the Corpse pose. This is the most important pose in any yoga practice and should never be skipped. The body processes the information received through practicing yoga during this pose. Palms, middle of the back, and the back of the head should all be planted into the mat. The feet can fall loose and the eyes closed to help the body relax into the pose. With eyes closed and the focus on the breathing, hang out here for five or 10 minutes.
Slowly wake up the body, wiggling the toes and fingers. Then roll gently on the side, laying the head on the arm and bending the knees. Gently and slowly lift the body. The body should feel revived and the mind calmed.
Focusing on breathing and practicing yoga poses can calm momentary anxiety and depression by giving the mind a peaceful focus and re-energizing the body.
Have you ever tried yoga? Why or why not? Leave a comment below.
I came across this article this morning from Nadya at the Spinach and Yoga blog. Nadya is a Yoga teacher and blogger. It really put things into perspective for me as a beginning Yoga student seeking the physical and spiritual enlightenment that Yoga provides. Let me know your thoughts.
The Everlasting Age of Anxiety
The great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow echoed the Buddhist tenet that everyone suffers with the words “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Everybody has troubles of one sort or another and we all need to escape them at some point. Turning off your mind and all its worries is the great escape. Drugs and alcohol are one route, but the long-term side effects are a drag. Being distracted by any kind of entertainment (shows, food, shopping, sex, gambling, sports, games) is fine for a while but eventually it comes to an end or you run out of money or the thrill wears off. Becoming a workaholic or pursuing an artistic passion can perhaps do the trick. It’s never worked for me. That chorus of whiners in my head doesn’t shut up that easily.
Meditation is about turning off your mind and getting in touch with an inner self that transcends your grade point average or your income or your love life. It takes time to get comfortable with meditation. It requires patience and concentration. And no matter how often I’m told to focus on my breath or just let myself go or follow a guided tour or let my thoughts bubble away, other phalanxes of my thoughts are chirping away in the background like incorrigible parakeets or making snide remarks like cynical teenagers or just stumbling in asking what’s up. Maybe when I’m much older and calmer I’ll get the meditation thing down, but for now yoga is my guaranteed great escape.
Finding Meditation That Works For ME
When I’m in a really challenging yoga class, stretching my way through a great sequence of poses, my mind completely shuts off. Yes I hear the teacher’s voice and follow the instructions, but the little rain that has fallen in my life seems very far away and completely irrelevant. All that matters is whether my hand is at that part of my leg or whether my nose is touching my knee or whether I can complete that bind and stay aligned. The body takes over. I feel my spine stretching. My muscles and joints and fascia wake up and take charge. I don’t know how or why this happens. Maybe it’s endorphins flooding the brain. Maybe it’s just the lovely sense that nothing else matters except getting the kinks out. My lungs have filled and relaxed with deep breathing and my breath has moved to touch and release the tightness that existed before I started moving again.
It has become a cliché that we live in an age of anxiety. The ecosystem teetering with the most intense overpopulation our world has ever known, too much wealth for the few and too few resources for the many, tremendous waste and need side by side, people who want to blow us up, too many lawyers and not enough justice. Technology has brought us miracles in medicine and communication and travel, but it seems like the more ground we cover, the less we see.
When I practice yoga I don’t think about any of that. I am getting in touch with a life force within me. The more I practice, the more it stays with me no matter the challenges of our times. I come out of class with positive thoughts and feeling good.
Really when has mankind ever not lived in an age of anxiety? And how is it within my control? I show my support for all the great good that also exists in this world. And then I imagine how it will be when more people transcend the rain in their life with deep breathing and come to realize the fluid mind-numbing power of yoga.
How do you deal with mind chatter and anxiety?
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Yoga benefits the mind, body, and soul.
Today after my Crossboot workout everyone was talking about going to do some YOGA. I have never done any Yoga before but always heard good things about it. The instructor was really knowledgeable and set everything up for us. This was a Hot Yoga class meaning the room is really hot so that you sweat more. I will definitely be going back to this Yoga class. Yoga is not hard at all and you do not have to be in shape to do it all. Anyone can do Yoga.
Some tips that I can provide before doing Yoga:
- Bring towel
- Bring water
- Bring a Yoga mat to lay down on
- Drink plenty of water before going to the class
- Breath frequently to help with blood flow and circulation
- Positive attitude 🙂
Find a Yoga class whether its at your local gym or community center. Most gyms provide Yoga classes within…
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Have you tried Yoga? Have you tried Bikram Yoga? The first class expectation is that you only stay in the room during the entire class. Why the simple expectation? The room is heated to about 105 degrees. I lasted the entire first class, I stayed in the room, and I also managed to perform roughly 1/3 of the poses. This was my first attempt at Yoga. I thought that I would become a raisin (devoid of water) because I must have sweat the equivalent of a lake.
How did I feel post class? Awesome! It is really a great feeling. It is indescribable. I felt renewed from the inside out and vowed to continue the practice until it hit 100 degrees here in Phoenix. I told myself that I must wait until it cools off (October through April), but I have friends that continue to participate even on days like today when it is 106 degrees outside. What’s the difference? The temperature will be the same in class as it is outside. It’s worth the detoxification benefits right? We shall see.
To learn more about Bikram Yoga: http://www.bikramyoga.com/BikramYoga/about_bikram_yoga.php
About Bikram Yoga
|Bikram Yoga is the 26 postures Sequence selected and developed by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha Yoga.
It has been proved and experienced by millions that these 26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function. Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits.
These studios are built in such a way that you always get the proper heating which help you to do your postures optimally. Bikram calls these studios as “Torture Chambers”.
|Why the heat?Yoga changes the construction of the body from the inside out, from bones to skin and from fingertips to toes. So before you change it, you have to heat it up to soften it, because a warm body is a flexible body. Then you can reshape the body any way you want.
Hatha Yoga flushes away the waste products, the toxins of all the glands and organs of your body. It provides a natural irrigation of the body through the circulatory system, with the help of the respiratory system. It brings nourishments to every cell of your body so that each one can perform its function and keep your body healthy. Bikram Yoga also employs heat to further that cleaning process: When you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.
Practicing yoga not only increases our supplies of oxygen, but it also teaches us how to use that oxygen properly – we learn to control the breath through pranayama.