The days are getting shorter, the sun is setting earlier, and the temperatures are dropping. While for some, Fall is a welcome respite from the heat of a long summer, for many of us it marks the onset of seasonal depression.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to a change in the seasons. Symptoms and severity can vary, but it’s common to have low energy, appetite changes, and feel depressed every day. While serious cases should be professionally treated, there are ways to manage the effects of SAD, including mediation and yoga. These four poses can help elevate your mood and energy in general, but particularly as the seasons change:
In general, heart openers have an energizing effect (one reason to stay away from these poses at bedtime!). Stimulating blood flow in a backbend can awaken the physical body – a natural way to give yourself a shot of energy if you’re feeling low this season. Standing backbends can be done a number of different ways – choose the variation that feels most stable for your low back in particular.
From a standing position with your feet hips’ width apart, slowly lift up through your sternum and raise your arms overhead. Imaging yourself arcing up and over a beach ball that’s pressed against your back. You can keep your palms pressing together, draw your elbows toward your kidneys in a cactus shape, or take your hands to your low back for added support.
Cat and Cow
Cat and cow are not technically a single pose, but rather a series of movements between two poses that alternate backbending and protraction of the shoulder blades. Cat/cow is a great way to warm up your body for any yoga flow – and can help elevate your mood through changing seasons.
- Beginning on hands and knees in tabletop, spread your fingers wide and draw your low belly in to neutralize your low back.
- Inhale and drop your abdomen toward your mat as you open your heart and lift your tailbone.
- Exhale and round your spine, drawing your navel up and in and tucking your chin toward your chest.
Repeat several cycles of cat/cow to warm up the spine and core and awaken your body.
Camel pose, another heart-opening pose, has a similar stimulating effect as a standing backbend. The most notable difference is that it’s executed from a kneeling position. To come into camel pose:
- Start in a tabletop position with your knees hips’ width apart, and slowly rise to standing on your knees and shins.
- Bring your hands to your low back with your fingertips pointing toward the floor.
- Draw your elbows straight back to help naturally open your chest.
- Lift up through your sternum as you inhale, and gradually round up and over as you breathe.
- Your hands can stay on your back for support (recommended if you have not warmed up), or they might drop down to grab your heels for a deeper variation.
Yoga for All Seasons
These poses can be useful for those of us who experience SAD through seasonal transitions. It’s good to remember that a consistent yoga practice can help keep your mood regulated no matter the season, so that when colder temperatures and shorter days arrive, we have the tools in place to stay regulated.Visit our online store for all the yoga gear you need to commit to a regular practice and stay healthy in body, mind, and heart.