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Promoting Yoga Poses for mental health during winter

Body & Brain Foundation
2017-12-26 17:09


Winter is a beautiful time of year. The glistening, snow-filled landscape and holiday festivities bring joy to many people, but for some it's a sad time of year particularly for those susceptible to seasonal affective disorder. Fortunately, yoga poses can be an effective tool in easing the symptoms of depression.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

As the National Institutes of Health explains,  this condition is marked by a serious change in mood during the winter months due in great part to the reduction of natural sunlight.Light therapy is one way to treat SAD, but many people also respond to antidepressants and talk therapy  to deal with their symptoms.  Exercise is also an important factor in maintaining mental health,  no matter what time of year, and that's   where the gentle poses, mindful meditation and deep breathing of yoga come into play.

How Do Yoga Poses Affect Depression?

SAD has the ability to bring on feelings of hopelessness, fatigue and loss of energy, difficulty concentrating and sleep issues. Yoga benefits all of these aspects of one's wellness, working to raise energy levels,enhance concentration and promote a healthy sleep schedule. As Bo Forbes,an integrative yoga therapist and clinical psychologist,explained to the Yoga Journal, the practice has the capacity to help heal winter depression on many levels.

"Restorative yoga may look passive from the outside, but it's very active internally on both subtle and dramatic levels," Forbes said. "Our nervous systems are designed to respond to minute fluctuations in our environments. Restorative yoga, combined with breathwork,  is a potent tool to recalibrate the nervous system."

Spreading the Word in Your Community

Yoga practitioners are responsible for helping others in their communities understand the importance of exercise as well as meditation and breathing exercises. Informing others of how yoga benefits the mind, body and spirit can be a daunting task, but with a little commitment and perseverance, you can help better the lives of your friends, family members and neighbors.

Arguably the best way to teach others is by word of mouth. During casual conversations you encounter on an everyday basis, feel free to bring up the subject of health during wintertime. After all, people in your community may be looking for ways to stay happy and avoid the blues during winter.

To reach a larger number of people at one time,  you might considering holding an informational session or roundtable discussion  to talk  about the benefits of yoga and other tactics for maintaining wellness during the cold season. Community centers, local two-year colleges and other public arenas may be best for these events,and you can even recruit a yoga practitioner from your area to teach people about  how the gentle postures, deep breathing and mindful meditation techniques can stave off depression. 

If someone you know is having obsessive thoughts of death or suicide, he or she should see a health care provider to treat depression.

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