Winter is in full effect and the early evenings of darkness can make anyone feel down. For a lot of us, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is known to be a real condition. SAD is a type of clinical depression that happens during the fall and winter months, when cold temperatures and darker days are upon us.1 Treatments can vary per person, but exercise has been known to be a great way to de-stress and improve energy levels and mood.1 Studies have shown that people who experience SAD and begin exercising tend to feel better faster.1
Yoga can be an especially helpful tool to improve SAD because it combines exercise with mindfulness and meditation.1 It is also great because it can be done alone, at home or with others in a classroom setting. Here are simple yoga routines that might help you ease seasonal depression whether you struggle with SAD or just some winter blues1:
Start with a sun salutation. Sun salutations can help improve circulation as well as support and stabilize your nervous system.
As you start to move into your sun salutation, make sure to breathe deeply as you move through the poses. Try doing these yoga poses in the morning to start your day off right.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Start to bend your knees slightly and have your arms remain at your sides. Make sure you aren’t clenching any part of your body too tightly, like your fingers or hands.
Inhale deeply and swing your arms up towards the ceiling. As you exhale deeply, breathe through your mouth and swing your arms back down. Find a rhythm of doing this pose and repeat around 30 times.
Next, try the legs up the wall pose. Lie down on the floor, against a wall. Extend your legs up towards the ceiling and make sure to support your head and neck. Try using a blanket, towel or jacket. Hold for a few minutes and practice deep breathing.
If you are an experienced yogi or up for a challenge, try a headstand. If you are a beginner, try a different type of inversion first. You can try a standing forward bend for similar benefits.2 Interlace your fingers behind your back. As you do this, roll your shoulders forward, up and open your chest.
If you are feeling especially stressed, try a backbend pose. These poses open the chest, expand the lungs and help bring in calming breaths.2 You could also try a bridge pose. Lay down on the floor on your back and roll your shoulders under and lift up your torso. For a similar stretch, you could try a camel pose. This involves sitting on your knees bending backward, opening your chest. And, always remember to take deep breaths as you do these poses!
Do you enjoy practicing yoga? Do you ever feel down or experience SAD in the winter months? What helps you feel better? Share below!
1 – Information from The Huffington Post
2 – Information from VeryWell