Yoga for Depression, Sadness, or the Blues

Let's talk about your friend.  

Just saying that your friend is having a hard time recovering from the empty nest syndrome, health issues for himself, herself, or significant other, a financial hardship, the loss of a family member, a failed relationship, a frustrating job, the teen years with children, old age, weight issues, adult children who just don't seem to follow through with the life plan their parents imagined for them, ....
and the list goes on.

Perhaps your friend's crankiness and withdrawal goes on a little longer than you believed necessary.  Yes, you were polite and caring; you gave them time.  However, it is continuing despite your best efforts.  You call.  You text.  You reach out.  Nothing happens.  What should you do?

Depression, lingering sadness, and the blues are serious issues.  How can yoga help?

In recent years, doctors have increasingly focused their efforts in treating depression on changing the biochemistry of the brain, specifically by using drugs to raise the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. This is the mechanism of action of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, the so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. But there are many other ways—including practicing yoga—to raise the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters linked to depression.
Some students' depression is marked by a dominance of tamas, the guna associated with inertia. These people may have a hard time getting out of bed and may feel lethargic and hopeless. Students with tamasic depression often have slumped shoulders, collapsed chests, and sunken eyes. It looks as if they are barely breathing. Patricia Walden, yoga instructor, likens their appearance to that of a deflated balloon.
A more common type of depression is marked by a predominance of rajas, the guna associated with activity and restlessness. These students are often angry, have stiff bodies and racing minds, and may appear agitated, with a hardness around their eyes.In Savasana (Corpse Pose) or restorative poses, their eyes may dart and their fingers won't stay still. These students frequently report difficulty in exhaling fully, a symptom often linked to anxiety.
From a yogic perspective, people with tamasic depression lack life force or prana. You'll want to concentrate on practices that bring breath to the body, particularly deep inhalations. If they are able to tolerate them, vigorous practices such as repeated Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), arm balances, and other challenging poses can be therapeutic. The body and mind are so occupied with the practice that it's hard to brood. 
Students with rajasic depression also tend to respond to Sun Salutations and backbends, though some of them will find strong backbends too agitating. Vigorous practices have the advantage of helping students burn off some nervous energy, and also of being demanding enough to keep their attention from drifting.
Indeed, some students have such a tendency to brood or get swept away with anxious or negative thoughts that asking them to close their eyes in Savasana and restorative poses (and even during Pranayama and meditation) may be counterproductive. Any of these practices can be done with open eyes or, if necessary, skipped entirely. In addition, Patricia Walden finds that propping students way up in Savasana, even having them lean on an inclined bolster placed against the wall, can be helpful.  Walden will often give a talk during Savasana, turning it into more of a guided relaxation practice.  Dr. Timothy McCall, Yoga as Medicine
guna - qualities of life
tamas - lethargic, inactive
rajas - too much movement - "ADHD" type of behavior
Think your friend might benefit from Yoga for their well-being?

Yoga for Depression is this Saturday at 10:30 a.m.  If you are already signed up for the workshop, super!  If you just want to drop in, $10 cash or check.  Workshops are not for punch cards.  Bring your friend.  Come and see how yoga, meditation, final relaxation can help.  


Thursday, October 10

10:30 a.m.  Micah's Marvelous Workout

12:00 p.m.  Easy, Easy Yoga with Jeanne

4:00 p.m.  Power Up, Glow and Glisten

6:00 p.m.  Shoulders and Chest Opening Yoga

Friday, October 11

5:30 a.m.  Sunrise Workout

12:00 p.m.  Back Healthy Yoga

4:00 p.m.  New Beginner's Class

5:30 p.m.  Power Yoga for Strength and Conditioning

6:40 p.m.  AHHH!  T.G.I.F.  Easy Flexibility Yoga

Saturday, October 12

Hance Henrie Run!  We are a supporter of the Run for the Patch!  Pick up a pamphlet and run this Saturday morning then come to yoga at noon for a great stretch in our Flexibility Yoga.

7:30 a.m.  Iron Yoga

9:00 a.m.  Core Vinyasa Flow Yoga

10:30 a.m.  Workshop for Yoga and Depression

12:00 p.m.  Flexibility Yoga

Sunday, October 13

2:30 p.m.  Sun Salute Fun!

4:00 p.m.  Yoga for Beginner's Class

Monday, October 14

5:30 a.m.  Sunrise Yoga Workout

12:00 p.m.  Core Vinyasa Flow 

5:30 p.m.  Power Yoga for Strength and Conditioning

6:40 p.m.  Easy, Easy Flexibility Yoga - Brian said after this class last week, "If I knew how much better my back would feel, I would never miss this class again."  

Tuesday, October 15

6:30 a.m.  New Early Morning Workout - trying for 4 weeks

10:30 a.m.  Micah's Flow Yoga

12:00 p.m.  Easy, Easy Yoga

4:00 p.m.  Power Up - Glow and Glisten

6:00 p.m.  Happy Hips - no, I didn't say that they would feel happy at the time.  Hamstrings - same comment; later alligator.

Wednesday, October 16

5:30 a.m.  Sunrise Yoga

12:00 p.m.  Core Vinyasa Flow Yoga

5:30 p.m.  Iron Yoga (weights or none - your choice)

6:40 p.m.  Easy Flexibility Yoga


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