Can Yoga Cure The Blues?

I’m an eternally optimistic person. Thankfully and luckily I have never suffered from depression although who among us has never felt sad from time to time. I have friends that struggle with melancholy and have watched them battle to be productive happy people. I’ve listened to their stories about therapy sessions and anti-depressants, unproductive days and uninspired plans. I empathize with their pain but I can’t fully know how they feel.

As one who wakes up most mornings ready to meet the day head on, I’d like to tell my friends to “snap out of it” and “get over it” but that’s both naive and hurtful. Depression doesn’t work that way. It takes time and patience to work through. But even those of us with the occasional off day knows that there are certain things we can do to lift our spirits and bring us out of the funk we’re in. Common sense tells us to exercise, eat a balanced diet(lay off the sugar), sleep 8 hours a night, call a friend, hug your dog…we all know the right things to do. In his book, “Light On Life” BKS Iyengar highlights 15 asanas for what he calls emotional stability. His instructions require the practitioner to do them in sequence from 1-15 and he recommends that you learn the practice under the guidance of an experienced teacher to gain the most benefit and avoid harm. The book has wonderful pictures and instructions on how to execute each asana. If you are just starting out (and working with an instructor) or are more experienced, here they are:

  • Adho Mukha Svasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Shirasana
  • Viparita Dandasana
  • Sarvangasana
  • Niralamba Sarvangasana
  • Niralamba Halasana
  • Setubandha Sarvangasana
  • Viparita Sarvangasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Upavista Konasana
  • Baddhakonasana
  • Supta Virasana
  • Viloma Pranayama
  • Shavasana

Of course each asana has it’s own inherent benefit to our health and well being but according to Mr. Iyengar these sequential asanas will lead to a grounded and calm mind. Depression affects more than 3 million Americans and is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest. It’s not just having a bad day and while some of us fall on my end of the happiness spectrum, there are many people who fall on the far shore of depression. As we are sentient beings it’s good to know that within our hectic and sometimes uncertain paths there is a simple remedy to lift our spirits.

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