Punxsutawney Phil carries the nation's hopes and dreams for a mild and short winter in his tiny little paws. But here in the gray Midwest, this little rodent's prediction also carries a lot of weight.
The Mayo Clinic estimates that as many as 3 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), making up a significant percentage of the 14.8 million Americans estimated to suffer some form of depression at any given time. Just this week the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a recommendation that all adults be screened for depression annually when they visit their doctor. As with so many mental health issues,we have learned that depression is prevalent, serious and most importantly, treatable.
Yoga and meditation have been widely studied in the medical community and lauded as an antidote for depression. The Harvard Mental Health Letter reported a 2005 study in which women who had practiced yoga twice per week for three months experienced significant improvements in their mental health, including a 65% increase in overall well-being. And those with SAD can enjoy the "proven" treatment of exercise, as "studies have shown people with SAD who exercise are more likely to feel better about the "winter blues."
As we collectively wait with bated breath for a groundhog to predict our fates, Rachel Roberts from The Yoga Bar studios offers up a few yoga tools to turn that frown upside down.
Viparita Karani - Legs up the Wall Pose
"Inversions are part of what make a yoga practice so potent as a healing modality. When we flip our bodies we can use the shapes offered as a way to turn our mood or our perspective upside down as well."
Sit with one hip against the wall and, keeping hands behind you, swivel onto the back while extending legs above you with backs of the legs pressing into the wall. You can bring a folded blanket, pillow or block under the hips to elevate them slightly, if you would like. Relax shoulders and belly as you breathe deeply. Finally, place an eye pillow or folded towel over the eyes. Maintain this posture for 5 minutes or longer.
Kapalabhati Breath - The Skull Polishing Breath
"This fast-paced staccato breath helps flood the mind with oxygen and prana giving one's mood a lift and clearing out fogginess from the brain."Sit comfortably, with one hand against the low belly. Inhale deeply, and exhale completely. Inhale again, and then exhale in a quick burst, contracting the lower abdomen inwards and upwards so it pulls away from the hand. Continue to inhale and exhale in these short, contracting bursts for 10 rounds. Then relax the abdomen and take a few rounds of deep, soothing breaths. This is one round. Repeat for 2 to 3 total rounds of Skull Polishing Breath.
Tritak Meditation - Candle Gazing
"Candle gazing meditations elecit a sense of warmth and brightness within. Tritak is a great practice to burn away the blues associated with the short, dark days of winter."During this meditation you place a candle at eye leve an arm's length away from you in a dark and still room. With the eyes open, focus your gaze on the flame of the candle and try not to blink. When your eyes begin to water or you begin to blink often, close your eyes and observe the flaming glow at your third eye center until it fades away. Repeat for 5 to 10 minutes.
Continue to beat the blues at either of our warm and welcoming studios in Newport or Over-the-Rhine! Check our schedule for the latest, most up-to-date offerings. We welcome new students and beginners!
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