Someone I care about has been sad lately. I want to help him. And anyone else who could benefit from this post.
So I did some research on yoga poses to help with sadness and mild depression.
In yoga teacher training on Thursday night we focused on forward bends. Forward bends bring your energetic level to calm and take your attention inward. The mind is quieted while in forward bends.
There are some forward bends in my Curbing Sadness practice.
And, of note, you don’t have to sad to do this practice.
Yoga poses have contraindications. So if you have health issues, please inquire before practicing.
And remember if something hurts or just feels wrong, don’t do it. Sensation is different than pain.
I did this practice myself. And I have to say it was very calming and relaxing. I felt well-rested after practicing.
From doing a little research, here is a practice I have written up to curb sadness/mild depression, which can be done by beginners (and all levels):
- Sukhasana (Easy Pose) Sit on folded blanket. Start with right leg in front and hold for 10 breaths. (If that’s too long, try five.) Switch to left leg in front and hold for 10 breaths. (Helps with stress; calms the brain.*)
- Balasana (Child’s Pose) If this pose hurts your knees, try a blanket under the knees. If that still doesn’t help, lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Hold for 10 breaths. (Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue.* **)
- Low Bhujangasana (Low Cobra Pose) Hold for five breaths. Beginners don’t need to bring their torso up as high as the example on Yoga Journal. Here is a picture of Low Cobra. (Helps relieve stress and fatigue; traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.*) (Boosts energy and mood.**)
- Uttanasana (Full Forward Bend) Hold for five to 10 breaths. If your hands can’t reach the floor use a yoga block. If you don’t have one I have modified by putting a dumbbell standing straight up and using that. Be careful with that. You could also stack some books. (Helps with stress and calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression; reduces fatigue and anxiety; relieves headache and insomnia.*)
- Adho Mukha Savanasana (Downward Facing Dog) Hold for five to 10 breaths. (Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression; energizes the body; relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue.*) (Reduces fatigue and focuses the mind.**)
- Virabhradrasana I (Warrior I) Right leg forward. Hold for five breaths. For beginners, keep your torso straight up. Don’t attempt the backbend. (Eases stress and anxiety as it strengthens the legs and core.**)
- Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle) Right leg forward. Hold for five breaths. Props and modifications are encouraged for this pose. A yoga block can be used or you can use a chair or the bottom arm can rest on the bent leg. (Energizes the body and focuses a scattered mind.**)
- Uttanasana. Hold for five to 10 breaths.
- Adho Mukha Savanasana. Hold for five to 10 breaths.
- Virabhradrasana I. Left leg forward. Hold for five breaths.
- Utthita Parsvakonasana. Left leg forward. Hold for five breaths.
- Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend) Hold for five to 10 breaths. A yoga block can help in this pose as well or stacked books. (Helps with headache; fatigue; mild depression; calms the brain.*)
- Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose) Hold for five to 10 breaths. If this hurts your knees try a blanket. (Helps with stress.*)
- Balasana. Hold for 10 breaths.
- Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) Hold for five to 10 breaths. (Helps with stress; calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression; reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia.*) (Boosts mood and mitigates anxiety while increasing the flexibility of the spine.**)
- Savasana (Corpse Pose) Set a timer while in this pose and stay in it for at least 10 minutes. But 20 is better. A rolled up blanket or bolster under the knees is a good idea. Make sure you are warm and comfortable. Covering your eyes with an eye pillow or towel will make the room “dark.” You can also drape a blanket over you to stay warm. (When in relaxation poses your body temperature drops.) A folded blanket under your head for a pillow is nice. (Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression; relaxes the body; reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia.*) (Relaxes tension and rejuvenates both the body and mind.**)
The research and information for this post came from my own knowledge, teachers I have learned from, an article I found called Ease Depression with Yoga from Prevention magazine and Yoga Journal website, where poses are listed for a therapeutic focus.
If there is a pose that just doesn’t feel right then don’t do it. If you know of another pose you find calming and relaxing then try that.
I didn’t list all the benefits and therapeutic applications of each pose as that would make this post too long. Feel free to read the links provided to read more.
*Information from Yoga Journal
**Information from Ease Depression with Yoga