Fitness Magazine

3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Beth

3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga

Winter Trees by Melina Meza

You wake up one morning and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Or, at some point during the day your body’s energy and your mental state plummet. You feel heavy, sluggish, and “stuck in the mud” of inaction. Every item on your to do list seems insurmountable. You feel like Sisyphus, that legendary king of Corinth, condemned eternally in Hades to repeatedly roll a heavy rock up a hill only to have it roll down again as it nears the top. So why bother doing anything? It seems so fruitless. Clearly, there is an energetic imbalance happening. 

The blues. We all get them from time to time. Because we are spiritual beings having a human experience, this happens. And because we are all different in so many ways, my blues, will not look or feel like your blues. If the energy state is temporary and does not linger—I draw the line at 3 days—we can choose to use our knowledge of yoga to shift our energy into a state where we feel more stable, embodied, grounded, safe, and connected to the physical world, our families, friends, and support communities. We can work toward a balance that lifts the perceived weight from our physical bodies (anamayakosha), restores our lagging energy (pranamayakosha), and calms the mind (manomayakosha), which may be stuck at any point between a deep well of dense, leaden earth and a fast moving cloud of anxious restlessness.1. Self Study and Discipline
When I find myself in this sate of imbalance and want to shift myself to a more balanced state, I turn to the niyamas. The first step is self-awareness (svadhyaya) and the question: why is this imbalance manifesting at this time? Sometimes I’ll find an answer and sometimes I won’t, but the important part of the process is to ask the question. The next step is discipline (tapas) and the question: which yoga techniques can help shift the imbalance?I lead an active life with a full schedule of teaching, writing, mentoring, volunteering, and keeping up with family and social groups from my book club to my “neighbors without a hood” Friday night dinner friends. When the blues manifest, it’s usually one of two reasons. Either I have overextended myself, and my body takes over to slow me down for rest and relaxation. Or, there is some creative impulse or life lesson that needs to come up to come out, and my body takes over to slow me down and let the gestation process move forward. At this stage of my life, I’ve learned to first be with and watch the process instead of rushing to shift the imbalance. Then, with or without an answer, I can choose my yoga approach to shift the energy. 2. Creating HeatDoing yoga poses in a way that creates heat, encourages a feeling of stimulation, and intention is helpful. I focus on the feeling of moving purposefully at a comfortable rate of speed and determination. A flow that I love and use frequently is Downward-Facing Dog to Plank pose. When dealing with the blues, I add in longer holds with a conscious mental focus of, “stimulate, strengthen, and energize.” Downward-Facing Dog to Plank Pose. In this mini vinyasa, I hold each asana for several breaths, usually 20 – 30 seconds, while keeping the focus on strengthening my arms and lengthening my spine. I keep my knees slightly bent for comfort. I repeat this flow several times using normal breathing with a bit more emphasis on the inhalation, and rest for a few breaths in Child pose between repetitions if needed.

3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga
3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga
This is my usual go-to flow when both body and mind sink into that deep well of dense leaden earth. But sometimes the body wants something else. For example, the last time it happened, I just “knew” that I needed a serious inversion to stimulate myself and move the energy upward in order to “get the lead out.” I went to my yoga swing and hung upside down like a bat for 3 minutes. Relief!3. Calming Your MindOn the rare occasion when my body feels heavy and immobile but my mind is stuck in that aforementioned fast-moving cloud of anxious restlessness, I first work to calm and quiet my mind before dealing with the bodily sensations of heaviness. I will do a short practice of either a mini vinyasa of Downward-Facing Dog pose to Child’s pose or 10 minutes in a supported inverted pose, and finish with a short session of seated meditation.Downward-Facing Dog to Child Pose. I hold Downward-Facing Dog for about 5-10 seconds and Child’s pose for 30 seconds or longer, depending on how I’m feeling. I repeat the flow several times using slow even breathing or a calming breath practice (see Calming Breath Practices We Recommend), along with a mental focus of calming, grounding and warming. To complete the flow, I rest in Child Pose for a few minutes.
3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga
3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga

Supported Inverted Poses. If I just want one posture, my asana of choice is Legs Up the Wall pose or Easy Inverted pose for 10 minutes, with normal even breathing and a mental focus on all the parts of me that are connected to the floor or chair. 
3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga
Seated Meditation. To complete my practice, I do a moment or two of seated meditation with Hakini mudra for integration and balance.
3 Tips for Managing the Blues with Yoga
These are a few of the ways I manage my blues. Hope you find the tips helpful as you explore ways to manage yours.Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook ° Join this site with Google Friend Connect

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