Curbing sadness with yoga practice

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 … Continue reading
  • The amazing psoas muscle

    The psoas muscle (pronounced so-az) affects every facet of your life, from your physical well-being to who you feel yourself to be and how you relate to the world. A bridge linking the trunk to the legs, the psoas is critical for balanced alignment, proper joint rotation, and full muscular range of motion, according to Yoga Journal website.

    Recently in a yoga class with Baxter we focused on the psoas muscle with various yoga poses.

    This Yoga Journal article talks about 10 yoga poses you can practice to release your psoas, such as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose), pictured to the left.

    Lunge variations, Vrksasana (Tree Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose) are also some poses that can be performed to work the psoas.

    Also from the Yoga Journal website, in walking, a healthy psoas moves freely and joins with a released diaphragm to continuously massage the spine as well as the organs, blood vessels and nerves of the trunk.

    Wow, one muscle does all of that?

    Wikipedia says the psoas major is a long fusiform muscle located on the side of the lumbar region of the vertebral column and brim of the lesser pelvis. It joins the iliacus muscle to form the iliopsoas. In … Continue reading

    Dealing with grief

    We don’t get over our grief, we change our relationship to it.- Lyn Prashant

    Life is suffering, the Buddha says, and even if you’re not given to abstractions it’s easy to see that life can be hard. The added strain of a major loss can make your world unremittingly bleak.

    Over the weekend my friend/co-worker/leader Perry died.

    Perry had a very short battle with an aggressive cancer. His passing is a huge loss to my team, my company, his family and friends, and frankly, the world.

    Perry had a huge and amazing presence. He stuck up for his team always. He was smart and caring.

    I look to my friends/co-workers for support and love. But I also look to yoga to help me in this grief.

    I agree with what this Yoga Journal article, which says, It’s in precisely these situations that the wisdom of the yoga tradition can be enormously helpful. Asana, breathwork, meditation—and, especially, the perspective on loss and death taught by the ancient yogis and sages of the East—can not only mitigate pain and expedite the grief process but also transform your experience of life after loss.

    I did research to find specific … Continue reading

    Yoga pose: Extended Triangle Pose

    I practice yoga regularly–about three times a week. Sometimes more.

    Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) is a regular pose in my regular practice in both Hatha and Vinyasa classes.

    Every yoga pose has an anatomical focus, therapeutic application and many benefits. On the Yoga Journal website many poses are broken down step by step on how to get into the pose, including Triangle Pose.

    The site also includes contraindications and cautions; beginner’s tip; variations; modifications and props; partnering; preparatory poses; follow-up poses; and how to deepen the pose.

    According to the YJ site, the anatomical focus is the thighs. (Great for part of this month’s Monthly Challenge.)

    The therapeutic application is for stress. (Sounds like I should be practicing that pose more often.)

    The benefits of this pose are great and endless. When I read a list like this I am reminded again that yoga is incredible and powerful and adds so much more to my life than just exercise.

    The YJ list of benefits on Extended Triangle Pose are: stretches and strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles; stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest, and spine; and Stimulates the abdominal organs; helps relieve stress; and Improves digestion; helps … Continue reading

    Weight baring yoga poses and osteoporosis

    In Baxter’s yoga class the other day we focused on poses that can help the effects of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

    I find it fascinating that weight baring exercises, yoga included, can reverse the effects of these conditions.

    In a Livestrong article titled, Osteopenia & Yoga, Loren Fishman, physician, author and creator of the website Sciatica.org, has conducted research on the benefits of yoga for osteopenia and osteoporosis. … According to his research, yoga improved both bone mineral density and bone strength, compared to subjects not participating in yoga.

    Baxter said research shows that we can stimulate new bone growth along the lines of stress by holding poses (weight baring pose) between 8-72 seconds.

    Baxter wrote on his blog Yoga for Healthy Aging, that engaging opposing muscle groups while doing a pose like Downward Facing Dog increases the stimulation of the underlying bone cells that make new bone.

    From the Livestrong article, seated postures can benefit the hip; examples include Hero pose, Bound Angle pose and Wide Angle pose. Standing poses put weight on the legs and hips, which help strengthen the bones in these areas; examples include Mountain pose, Triangle pose, Warrior pose and Side Angle pose.

    Continue reading

    Can’t sleep?

    I have a lot of trouble sleeping. I usually have no problem falling asleep. But staying asleep, well, that’s different.

    One of my yoga teachers Vickie has told class many times that Legs-Up-The-Wall is a great pose to try when you are having trouble sleeping.

    But you gotta either drag yourself out of bed or just flip yourself around while in bed and do it right there. Yup, it takes a little effort.

    Because Curt and I were staying in a hotel last night and had two beds I decided to try it while in bed.

    I stayed in the pose maybe 10 minutes. I didn’t fall asleep immediately. But I felt much more sleepy and fell asleep at a point before getting frustrated while tossing and turning.

    The benefits of the pose are that it can relieve tired or cramped legs and feet, it stretches the back legs, front torso and back of the neck (the pose forces you to have a long neck).

    It can also relieve mild back pain and calms the mind, which is where the having trouble sleeping comes into play.

    According to this site, Legs-Up-The-Wall pose is an inversion, the blood circulation … Continue reading

    What is Restorative Yoga?

    This is what my friend Pam asked Monica and me yesterday before spin class as Monica and I were discussing the The Gift of Restorative Yoga workshop we attended today with Vickie.

    According to Namaste’s workshop link, Restorative Yoga uses props to support the body, allowing for expansiveness and ease while stimulating the body’s innate healing abilities. This workshop will enable us to explore the benefits of bringing awareness and balance to the body- mind.

    This is a direct description from Namaste’s class description of Restorative Yoga: Gentle yoga and passive restorative postures to open the body, quiet the mind and move into a deep sense of relaxation. A meditative time to cultivate awareness of body breath and mind, this class is recommended for those experiencing stress, recovering from injury or illness, and anyone seeking a gentle class to unwind, relax and renew.

    I try to practice Restorative Yoga as often as my schedule allows. It is relaxing and makes me really try to calm my mind and bring down my stress.

    Today Vickie talked about our vata, which according to Yoga Journal website, it governs all movement in the body and mind. (The Sanskrit translation of the word is “that … Continue reading

    Go Fit Girl! is thankful/grateful for many things

    Today is Thanksgiving and I have many things to be thankful and grateful for.

    This list is just some of the things Go Fit Girl! is thankful for. (If it was Ann … it would never end.)

    I am thankful and grateful for:

    Yoga.

    Meditation.

    Setting intentions.

    In-Shape City Gym and teachers: Jenn, Jessica and Will.

    Namaste yoga studio and teachers: Vickie, Baxter, Lily and Hannah and the occasional sub.

    Being healthy all year long.

    My supportive husband.

    Grace and Gratitude Thanksgiving workshop.

    Weight Watchers.

    My readers, the regular and occasional, the new and the old.

    My laptop in which I can write my posts and do my research.

    The salad bar at work.

    My gym friends.

    Wellness plan at work.

    My weekly weigh-in.

    New spin bikes at the gym.

    Exercise/health/nutrition challenges at work.

    My friend Monica who is my Monday night gym class buddy and motivator.

    That I can afford to grocery shop every week (or really anytime) and buy healthy food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Namate yoga studio focusing holiday workshop proceeds on charity (and yoga mat rentals going to charity as well.)

    My subscription to Yoga Journal.

    My husband being my new-ish gym buddy.

    My Camelbak … Continue reading

    Cleaning my yoga mat

    Last year I wrote about cleaning my yoga mat. I had a fairly inexpensive yoga mat and took a chance by throwing it into the washer. It dried rather quickly and seemed like a successful cleaning of the mat.

    I now have a Jade Yoga mat, which is rather expensive. And the material is different.

    According to the Jade Yoga website you can throw the mat into a front load washer (which we don’t have) or wipe down or soak in the bathtub. It mentions that oils, solvents or harsh abrasives should not be used.

    The Yoga Journal website also gives some tips on how to clean a yoga mat.

    Last week while I was leaving Namaste I asked the woman working the front desk what she recommended to clean my mat. She told me the studio uses witch hazel and water, 25% and 75%. Spray the mat liberally, but don’t soak. Then rub down with wet hot towel. She said a little tea tree oil could also be added as it is an antibacterial.

    I added very little oil to my mixture. I only cleaned one side of my mat in case the oil made … Continue reading

    Binds, twists and relaxation

    Today in my Vinyasa flow glass we focused on binding and twisting.

    This Yoga Journal article gives a great and lengthy description of a Hatha practice while binding.

    The noose pose is a bind and a twist. We didn’t quite do this pose today. We did a bind while in a lunge. (Among many other binds and twists.)

    Yoga Journal states the following list of benefits one gets from practicing the noose pose:

  • Stretches and strengthens the ankles
  • Stretches the thighs, groins, and spine
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs
  • Improves digestion and elimination
  • Improves posture
  • Binding and twisting massages the internal organs and is detoxifying. This article discusses the many benefits of binding.

    I am starting to wonder if my yoga instructors are preparing us for the holiday gorge fest that we are about to embark on. I talked about the twisting we did in Baxter’s Hatha class on Wednesday night.

    Another preparation for the season that begins … really now, you know, the crazy holiday season, end of the year at work … I made sure to attend the restorative class tonight. I really enjoy that class. Today I physically relaxed … Continue reading