Life has its inevitable ups and downs. In yoga this energy movement is called Pranic (yang) and Aponic (yin). The pranic pattern is like the inhale, it’s invigorating and fills us up. The aponic pattern is more like the exhale; it’s a letting go and releasing. In life we function best with a good balance of these two energy forces.
However there are times in our lives that we get out of balance. By working with the body physically, we can influence our mental state. Remember that the mind-body connection is a two way street. The way we feel mentally and emotionally influences our physical stance in the world. For example, someone who is feeling depressed will often have the shoulders rounded in, and their chest somewhat caved in. This is a physical representation of the aponic energy pattern. Conversely doing certain physical movements can have a direct and strong effect on our mental and emotional state. Anyone who has ever gone for a walk or run when upset can testify to the power of physical movement on one’s mental health. Yoga poses are wonderful tools for bringing yourself back into balance.
When we feel depressed, our bodies and shoulders tend to slump forward. Our minds feel foggy and sluggish, and we have difficulty focusing or concentrating. We close ourselves off from other people and often feel a deep deep fatigue towards to life’s daily demands. For relief from depression, it’s all about inversions, back bends, and chest- opening poses! These are pranic poses; poses which bring into the body renewed energy and expansion. Inversions in particular bring fresh blood and oxygen to a weary brain, while calming the nervous system. Heart-openers release tension, improve posture, and create a feeling of expansiveness. Backbends increase the heart rate and require mental focus and physical strength.
The poses noted below may be practiced together as in a sequence, or individually throughout the day when your energy starts to fade, or the blues begin to creep in. If you plan to practice the whole series, then it is a good idea to begin with several Sun Salutations to warm up your muscles.
I’ve linked each of these postures to different webpages which describe and explain them. However learning a new posture from a website is not ideal. These are all postures that we routinely do at mom and baby yoga (with adaptations). If any of these are new to you, please learn them with a in-person teacher as it is safer and much more effective.
Lastly if you are in the midst of depression, I would like to leave you with a quote from the teachings of Abraham. “There will be a time, not so far from now, that you will look back on this phase of your life and instead of condemning it or beating up on it… Instead of blaming or guilting, you will feel appreciation for it, because you will understand that a renewed desire for life was born out of this time period that will bring you to physical heights that you could not have achieved without the contrast that gave birth to this desire.”— Abraham
Wishing you wellness,
*Photo credit by Hilde Vanstraelen / www.biewoef.be